NEW YORK: Expanding its arsenal to compete with BlackBerry, Nokia Corp. is paying $430 million (euro368 million) to acquire Intellisync Corp., a provider of wireless e-mail and data services that first made its name with software to synchronize Palm handhelds with computers.
The deal, announced Wednesday, comes two months after Nokia barged into the crowded field of BlackBerry rivals by becoming the first major handset maker to unveil its own brand of mobile e-mail service.
With Intellisync's technology, Nokia said it will be able to offer the abilities to connect any device to any data source, application or network.
That has become increasingly important as the work force turns increasingly mobile, but still requires easy access to internal corporate servers and databases.
Nokia declined to specify whether the acquired product line might become the core of its Nokia Business Center initiative,which was announced in September.
Nokia reiterated Wednesday that the new service would join rather than replace the existing lineup of mobile e-mail and productivity options available on Nokia devices.
Those include BlackBerry from Research in Motion Ltd., GoodLink from Good Technology Inc., and applications from Seven Networks Inc. and Visto Corp.
Nokia also stressed that handset makers and wireless providers who offer Intellisync's products needn't worry about the Finnish company serving its own interests first with Intellisync's technology.
Intellisync's desktop synchronization software is pre-loaded in every BlackBerry from Research In Motion Ltd., providing connectivity with leading desktop programs such as Microsoft Corp.'s Outlook, as well as online portals such as Time Warner Inc.'s AOL, Microsoft Corp.'s MSN and Yahoo Inc.
But the emphasis of Intellisync's business has evolved toward wireless synchronization rather than placing a handheld in a desktop cradle or plugging a wire into a computer.
Toward that end, the company has developed a unified platform that provides connectivity to sales and other internal data in addition to the real-time e-mail, contact and calendar updates made popular by BlackBerry.
Nokia is offering $5.25 per share in cash for each share of Intellisync, whose technology enables mobile access to e-mail and other desktop information to about 500,000 users through wireless carriers under their own brand names.
The buyout price is below what Intellisync's shares were fetching before the deal announced, and the stock sagged 46 cents, or 8.3 percent, to close at $5.08 Wednesday on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Nokia's U.S. shares slipped 11 cents to close at $16.92 on the New York Stock Exchange.
The transaction is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2006.
"Enterprises face increasing challenges when it comes to selecting devices, enabling access to e-mail and securing corporate data, while carriers are facing more and more complexity to support these demands,'' said Mary McDowell, general manager of Nokia's Enterprise Solutions business group.
She said the purchase of Intellisync is "the best way to provide the solution to these challenges.''
Intellisync, based in San Jose, California, has been developing a consolidated system that can communicate with a range of mobile devices, including Palm Inc.'s Treo and Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry, from a single server.
Analysts say industry growth has been limited by proprietary systems from the various handset makers.
Intellisync's services are increasingly rebranded by carriers. For example, the product is sold as Wireless Sync by Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC. - AP