O2 claims stimulus from liquor and pharmaceutical sectors

PDA device vendor O2 is aggressively pursuing the liquor and health services sectors in Australia and New Zealand to bolster the uptake of its mobile devices which sport enterprise applications.

During an analyst and media briefing in Sydney on Thursday, Asia Pacific CEO Mark Billington revealed that mobile enterprise solutions accounted for 50 percent of the vendor's current device uptake, adding that the health, transport and logistics sectors continued to perform above expectations through the uptake of solutions such as mobile barcode scanners and customized delivery tasking applications.

"We are looking at driving better productivity through the workforce. We can offer productivity in key verticals such as health and medical [sectors]," Billington said.

He also revealed O2 has recently been working closely with business applications behemoth SAP to help deliver mobility-customized SAP applications for field-based sales representative for one of two major Australian brewing and liquor wholesalers. In terms of recent wins Billington cited Lion Nathan, United Parcel Service (UPS) and Merck Pharmaceuticals as enterprise mobility clients.

"We are working with key independent software vendors. We've been doing work with SAP and there's also a huge .Net community. We are now getting enterprises building [mobile applications] with us. There are a lot of brewery and liquor outlets looking at these phones, especially the barcode scanning capability," Billington said.

IDC Australia telecommunications analyst Susana Vidal said O2 needed to further differentiate its consumer offerings from its converged mobile enterprise solutions.

"It still seems a bit focused on the mobile device side rather than the converged device side. They need to work more on [promoting] the converged applications capabilities - like the fact you can use VoIP rather than [more expensive GSM]. That's what will present advantages to the [corporate] market. It's a converged device...there's a lot of [WiFi and wireless deployed] in the enterprise space," Vidal said.

O2 has also entered a content provision partnership - called O2 Unwired - with Optus Zoo which is not related to Australia's latest retail wireless provider Unwired.

O2 is shipping two converged devices new to the Australian market immediately. The O2 Xda IIs runs Windows Mobile 2003, priced at $1599, and is aimed at the corporate and enterprise space, while the smaller Xphone II is priced at $799 and aimed at the premium consumer market. Billington described the Xda IIs as an "Xda 1 on steroids" adding O2 has shipped 100,000 Xda II units across Asia Pacific to date.

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