By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Entrepreneurs have begun providing free services to cellphone users who had to pay for them before.
Navizon has begun offering free navigation services to cellphone users (see above), and Teleflip is offering free email redirection service to anyone with any make and model text-messaging cellphone. Users need only subscribe to their carrier's short message service (SMS).
Teleflips' flipMail service is available to consumers in the United States and Canada and will be expanded worldwide by the end of the year.
Though other subscription services offer email redirection to cellphones, Teleflip said its flipMail service is the first and only redirection service available free, excluding a carrier's normal SMS charges. Ubnlike other subscription-navigation services, no extra-cost Internet data plan is required, nor do consumers have to buy a special handset such as a smartphone or BlackBerry, a spokeswoman said. Nor is there an application to download over the air.
As with traditional email-redirection services, cellphone users responding to a redirected email will reply with a message that appears to be coming from the user's personal or corporate email address.
After Teleflip hits a critical mass of subscribers, it plans to offer a premium subscription service that will include content feeds, calendar alerts and other services, she said.
Consumers who sign up receive their personal or work email from any type of email account (POP, IMAP, Web mail and Microsoft Exchange) or any email service, including Gmail, AOL, Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail, the company said.
Later this summer, users will also be able to select the times of day on which emails will be redirected, and they will be able to get calendar alerts and online content.
To keep SMS charges down, not every incoming email has to be redirected. The service enables consumers to receive emails from only the contacts they choose in advance. To accomplish that, consumers go to www.teleflip.com to enter their email address and cellphone number. Once the activation process is complete, users add all the personal contacts from whom they want to receive redirected email.
Also through the Web site, users turn the service on or off and set the length of messages they want to receive to control their SMS charges. Because SMS messages are limited to about 120 characters, flipMail breaks up each incoming email into multiple SMS text messages up to the user's preset limit.
To receive the service, users provide their email address as well as their email password. To reply to messages, users reply to a sender's nickname, which is automatically created by flipMail. Users can update the nicknames, however.
As many as 70 percent of the world's mobile phone users do not have access to the Internet or email, said CEO Tony Davis. "By establishing a flipMail account through Teleflip, this large population will now have instant access to send and receive worldwide emails on their regular cellphones without any new software downloads, special mobile Internet plans or any new hardware or devices."
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