A start-up founded by a group of successful European entrepreneurs is set to bring e-mail, instant messaging and other communications services to low-cost mobile phones, its chief executive said on Tuesday.
Babur Ozden, the head of Berggi Inc., said his company plans to offer a simplified alternative to the Blackberry e-mail delivery service from Canada's Research In Motion , which dominates the mobile professional market.
Berggi aims to offer messaging services for basic mobile phones that still represent two-thirds of the U.S. mobile market. Users of Blackberry or rival e-mail services on Palm or Microsoft software need more expensive, so-called smartphones.
Consumers can send and receive e-mail on their phones from Internet services such as Yahoo, Microsoft or Google, along with popular instant-messaging services. Berggi delivers any text in the body of an e-mail, but not document attachments.
"Our uniqueness is that we are the only application that runs on mid- to lower-end phones," Ozden said in an interview.
U.S. consumers can sign up on the company's Web site at http://www.berggi.com, beginning on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. Mobile phone users in Spain can start using Berggi on Friday.
During the first half of next year, Berggi plans to offer the service in Britain, Italy, Mexico and Turkey, Ozden said.
The U.S. service costs $9.99 a month. European users pay by the data they consume. One euro covers 10 or 20 e-mails.
While targeting the price-sensitive end of the consumer market, Berggi is essentially trying to encourage users to bypass the billing systems that mobile carriers use to lock consumers into rates.
Ozden said Berggi works as a simple download on most U.S. mobile carriers, except for Verizon Communications and the Nextel service of Sprint Nextel, which have billing system conflicts. Berggi also assumes that Blackberry or Palm users will rely on higher-end services for these devices.