E-Mailer Visto Mulls IPO, Not More Lawsuits

Going public would add prestige, the company says. And aside from existing cases against RIM and others, staying out of court sounds good

Mobile email company Visto is looking into the possibility of a stock market float and more acquisitions - but says it has had enough of lawsuits.

Visto CEO Brian Bogosian told silicon.com an IPO is an "aspiration" for the company, which is considering a float within the next 12 to 18 months.

He said: "There is no immediate cash need for us to go public but the companies that do are market leaders and it's a way for investors to get their investments liquid."

Bogosian added that the company, which recently won a contract to supply Vodafone with its own-brand email product, is also mulling further acquisitions.

He said: "We have consolidated and acquired companies in the market and we will probably selectively and carefully continue to do so." Recently the company has been making headlines more for its lawsuits rather than its strategy. After winning a suit against rival mobile email company Seven, Visto filed another IP infringement case against RIM, the company behind the BlackBerry. RIM promptly countersued.

Visto also has a number of other suits against mobile email companies, including Good and Microsoft, which are ongoing.

Bogosian said the company would rather be known for its products than its lawsuits, however. "It's a very small part of what we do. Of our 400 employees, 399 are focused on the technology and servicing our customers. I really think it's a small part of the story," he said.

Visto's CEO added that while the company hopes it will come to an agreement with RIM, it wouldn't rule out putting it out of business: "If they force us to shut them down, we will do that."

With a mere two per cent of the world's corporate inboxes mobile-enabled, the tech sector is falling over itself to make mobile email the next must-have application. But the oft-quoted two per cent statistic is still evidence of the mountain mobile email providers have to climb. According to Bogosian one key element that has been holding back deployments is the question of pricing.

It's a view backed by Roy Bedlow, European VP at Palm. Speaking on Tuesday, at the FT Mobile Communications conference, Bedlow said: "Until there is a tariff supporting mobile email, you won't see mobile email take off."

The other element, according to Bogosian, is the devices themselves. "There's a lack of choice with devices that are suitable for mobile email. The new devices that are being introduced from Nokia, Samsung, Motorola and Sony Ericsson will certainly have the cool factor in their favour."

While Visto has opted for a "device agnostic" strategy, RIM's iconic device is still proving a winner for the BlackBerry. Mobile email take-up has already propelled RIM into the top 10 device manufacturers in the US, according to figures from research company group NPD Group.


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