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With interest in push email shooting up, the Middle East has the potential to beat established markets to reach maturity with the technology, if and when service providers rise to the task.

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By  Administrator Published  May 31, 2007

Middle East enterprises have been increasingly turning towards ‘push email' solutions in a bid to increase employee productivity. The region's consulting, financial and service sectors have thus far fuelled these solutions.

"The acceptance of technology in MEA has shown promise and we are anticipating the regional market for push email-enabled products will continue to grow in the coming years," says EMS CEO Babar Khan.

Ghassan Hasbani, principal communications and technology practice analyst at industry analysts Booz Allen Hamilton, believes that the Middle East market is in the process of emulating the progression of ‘mature' markets, such as the US and Western Europe, with the enterprise sector effectively driving demand.

"The region will follow the typical push email market evolution with the development of the enterprise sector followed by the retail segment," states Hasbani. "This evolution pattern is due to the fact that enterprise customers are willing to pay a premium for real-time connectivity whereas the retail sector of the market is more cost sensitive."

EMS' Khan believes the push email market will flourish in countries with rapidly developing business sectors, such as in the Gulf where booming economies have proven to be the strongest markets in this segment. "We foresee a significant uptake of this service across the region, however we do expect countries with larger corporate sectors to provide the bulk of this growth," Khan predicts.

The rapidly developing regional enterprise segment has also led to speculation that the Middle East and Africa push email segment will achieve ‘maturity' at a faster pace than the ‘established markets ‘ of the US, Europe and Japan.

It is true that much of the surge in the push email market segment in the region can be attributed to various vendors eager to buoy the market for the technology.

However, some of it at least can be attributed to the rise of a new breed of users.

"In Middle East and Africa there is a surge in what we call the ‘pro-sumer' segment," explains Joe Devassy, head of Nokia's enterprise solutions in the Middle and Near East. "At present I'd say they account for approximately 80% of the regional market in terms of end-users, and I would define a ‘pro-sumer' as an end-user who will use their push email application for personal use as well."

Devassy highlights that the majority of end users purchase their handsets without thinking if it will be compatible with push email services.

"This is why we have made our solutions device agnostic'," he says.

Nokia is set to concentrate on the Saudi Arabian market throughout 2007 citing the country's high rates of adopting new technology as the principal reason for the strategy.

However, many among the analyst community maintain that the fate of the push email market depends on regional network operators' ability to increase service penetration as well as customer awareness.

Mohsen Malaki, research and consulting director of IDC in CEMA, points out that telcos in the region have long talked about being ‘customer-focused' but few have really implemented customer-centric strategies to date.

"It is not the priority of companies at present due to the relatively high cost of service. However if those issues are resolved, the region could easily become a prime early-adopter of push email," Hasbani states.

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