Oracle takes wireless plunge with consumer portal

In addition, Oracle announced closer ties with Motorola to further develop voice and data capabilities for wireless computing.

Services offered by the OracleMobile.com portal, including e-mail, are accessed by Web-enabled mobile phones, two-way pagers, and other wireless devices, Oracle officials said. The portal will also host a variety of online services and content providers, such as ETrade, eBay, Sabre, Amazon.com, and United Parcel Service, officials said.

"This is what the (mobile) carriers wanted," said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison about the new portal and its aggregated services. "The new effort will aid Oracle and its attempts to provide consumer portal services, business services hosting, and the selling of technology to mobile carriers."

Ellison said that he expects the portal service will increase activity on the Internet, which will also boost database sales.

To receive the full suite of content and transaction services, users must have one of the following mobile phones or devices: Motorola Timeport, Ericsson R320, Wireless Web phone from Sprint PCS, Nokia 710, Samsung SCH-3500, or Sanyo SCP-4000.

Most of the online and Web-based wireless messaging services will be supported by Motorola's Mobile Internet Exchange (MIX). Motorola and Oracle plan to continue co-developing services such as providing voice-activation for mobile online transactions, officials said.

Denise Lahey will be CEO at OracleMobile.com. Lahey has served as head of Oracle's mobile products division and oversaw the creation of Oracle's mobile database strategy, including Oracle 8iLite and Oracle Portal-to-Go.

An analyst at the event here said one potential weak link in the service is the transcoding technology, which transforms HTML coding into a user interface for mobile devices. "It's not been totally foolproof," said Anne Thomas Manes, an with the Patricia Seybold Group in Boston.

Manes, however, said the strength of Oracle's offering lies in the aggregation of content and transaction services. On the corporate front, she said that the wireless portal service would lend itself easily to sales force automation and field service.

The portal is at http://www.oramobile.com/. The services announced today are free, Oracle said, although an as-yet-unannounced slate of premium services will carry a price tag when available, officials added.

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Eugene Grygo

PC World

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