Maximizer, the Vancouver, B.C.–based CRM provider for small-to-midsize businesses, has added another notch to its mobile-offering belt with the announcement of compatibility with Symbian OS, a mobile-device operating system recently acquired by Nokia. This broadens Maximizer's penetration into the smartphone industry, on the heels of an August 2008 brand-refocusing in which the SMB provider detailed a renewed emphasis on mobility. (The October release of Maximizer 10.5 introduced new features and wireless capabilities to the company's core CRM product.)
Maximizer Mobile CRM — which the company describes as a fully functional CRM solution for those on the go — was previously available for RIM BlackBerrys, Apple iPhones, and Palm devices, as well as for handsets running the Windows Mobile operating system. Now that the product is also available for Nokia devices and others running Symbian, company executives are clearly eager to support Maximizer's belief that traveling salespeople and other road warriors will begin leaving behind their laptops in favor of increasingly sophisticated handheld devices.
"We don't believe that any one [device or operating system] has won the mobile-smartphone market yet," says Angie Hirata, director of marketing and product development for Maximizer. As an example of how fickle this arena can be, she points out that Palm was easily winning the business-applications-for-handhelds race a decade ago, but now finds itself struggling to retain market share. "Our strategy is to support multiple mobile platforms and support the platforms that our customers are demanding," she says. Hirata also notes that although Nokia dominates the mobile-phone market worldwide, the Finnish manufacturer hasn't had much of a business-user presence in North America.
Maximizer sees that changing, however. "We think that in ‘09 Nokia will be targeting more American customers," Hirata says
"I think it's a great strategy," says Laurie McCabe, vice president for SMB insights and solutions at AMI-Partners. "I think creating that very smooth, easy access to as much CRM functionality as possible via as many smartphones as possible is a great positioning." In fact, she says, a particularly compelling aspect of the new announcement is the fact that the Symbian OS runs not only on Nokia handhelds but on those made by other manufacturers as well.
Hirata says that about 15 percent to 20 percent of existing Maximizer CRM customers are using its mobile application. The majority of those salespeople are accessing the software on BlackBerrys, she says, but that's not to say that BlackBerry is winning the race.
According to Will Anderson, executive vice president of technology for Maximizer, instead of asking customers what device they're using now, Maximizer reps focus on asking customers what they will be using. He says that keeping tabs on the changing market is crucial to Maximizer's mobile strategy. Hirata adds that Maximizer recently opened up a customer community forum to gauge opinions on devices and solutions -- and to help with troubleshooting.
Next quarter, Anderson says, Maximizer intends a release built for the Blackberry Storm. "It's not just a supported application on the device," Anderson says, hinting at a new interface and technology involving the Storm's touch screen. Maximizer is also looking at phones running the Google Android operating system, he says, and is considering new products released by Motorola.
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