Start-up of the Week / The Poor Man’s BlackBerry

Amitai Ziv
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Amitai Ziv

Despite alternatives like Facebook messaging, email remains the undisputed king (or rather “dictator” or “tyrant”) of modern communication. The average worker spends 2.5 hours per day writing them and in the current smartphone era, they never go away: When workers are accessible at any time, at any time they are expected to work.

The Israeli start-up Emoze isn't exactly helping that problem, but for clients without a smartphone, they make it possible to check email, too, so no one is let off the hook.

Emoze, founded in 2006, pushes content from the internet to telephones that aren't smartphones, basically turning any device into a Blackberry. The company started working with the Symbian operating system, which used to be on Nokia and Sony Ericsson handsets.

"Nokia and Symbian are fading," says Emoze CEO Moshe Levy, "but we still provide support for the product, which is very much in demand at Nokia’s applications stores." Given the decline of their original model, the company started targeting the product to simpler handsets in 2010, working with Chinese manufacturers.

"About 600 to 700 million ‘dumb phones’ are still being sold all over the world," Levy points out, "and they still make up 80 percent of the handsets in the world." So while it may seem like there isn't anyone you know without a smartphone, those in the telephone stone age apparently still make up a huge market share. The year the company introduced its new product they signed contracts with Motorola, Alcatel and Huawei. Today, Karbonn Mobile of India and MyPhone of the Philippines are clients as well.

Emoze, which is based in Herzliya, has 30 employees. It is owned by the Emblaze Group (formerly owned by Eli Reifman). According to Levy, the company's business model currently breaks even, which frees it from the need to raise additional funds.

Though the outcome is the same as Blackberry – everybody gets email whenever they want – the technology Emoze uses to achieve it is different. While Blackberry uses a "store and forward" technique, Emoze's patented technology shoots the data straight to the user.

"Our solution is based on our own servers, so the manufacturer or cellular provider doesn’t have to buy anything but software licenses,” Levy explains. Emoze's business model consists of selling a software license for each device. Individual customers can download for free, but the large manufacturers of mobile devices have to pay up and they're willing to do so because in today's market, it’s unthinkable to put out a product without email access.  

Now Emoze is setting its sight on Android. They started developing the software for Android in 2011 and recently updated the version.

"The built-in email client on Android isn’t good," says Levy, pointing out that Emoze is more efficient when it comes to battery use and data. The average user, he says, has three email accounts, which is wasteful. "We enable clients to get all their email, including workplace accounts, with one application." In addition, Emoze offers security solutions to find a stolen device or lock a phone remotely.

After Android, the company is eyeing the big boy: Apple’s iOS. Despite what Levy calls Apple's "draconian" restrictions on all competing apps, he allows the Emoze is "considering it.

No BlackBerry? No worries. The Israeli start-up Emoze offers software so you can access your email at any time on almost any device.Credit: Reuters