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Nokia to offer free Blackberry-style push e-mail

Service will be free for a year

Nokia is planning to offer free "push" email on all its handsets, according to software vendor Seven, in a bid to boost the use of mobile email.

"It's a market grab," said a Seven spokesperson. "Nokia is going out very aggressively offering one year's free push email for POP and IMAP users on Nokia phones."

The free service will forward email to the phone as it arrives, making POP and IMAP email easier to use on a mobile phone. If it takes off, it will be a useful revenue boost for mobile operators; only the application service is free, and users will pay normal GPRS rates for the data sent and received. "It's a good way to stimulate usage of GPRS," said the spokesperson.

After a year, users will be invite to pay a fee to continues the service. It is expected to be around €30-€40 per year (£20-£30), roughly the current level for the service where it is available.

Explosive growth of BlackBerry devices has made push email a hot topic, since Microsoft hastily added it to Windows Mobile and Exchange after its latest version of Windows Mobile was criticised for lacking push.

The BlackBerry device, from Research in Motion (RIM), still has a commanding lead, with 3m customers, but there is a potential user base of 650m enterprise email customers, and many more consumers. RIM's solution is still effectively tied to specialist hardware, and Microsoft's is currently limited to the combination of Exchange and Windows Mobile.

Seven believes that, with the Nokia and Yahoo deals, it can overtake RIM, but would not put a date on when he expects this to happen.

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