What The Heck Happened To i-Mate?What The Heck Happened To i-Mate?
Reports started <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2008/03/01/i-mates-us-outpost-implodes-most-laid-off/">filtering over the Web</a> this past weekend that i-Mate, maker of the Ultimate series of Windows Mobile smartphones, has laid off most of its U.S. staff. Reports were later confirmed with ex-employees, who said the engineering, quality assurance, and tech writing departments were all sacked. I guess having the Ultimate product doesn't assure you success in the mobile enterprise industry. <b>U
March 3, 2008
Reports started filtering over the Web this past weekend that i-Mate, maker of the Ultimate series of Windows Mobile smartphones, has laid off most of its U.S. staff. Reports were later confirmed with ex-employees, who said the engineering, quality assurance, and tech writing departments were all sacked. I guess having the Ultimate product doesn't assure you success in the mobile enterprise industry. Updated, 3/04.i-Mate launched its Ultimate series of enterprise smartphones and PDAs at CTIA last fall. I spent time with the entire product range, and thought they were solid devices for the field force. Perhaps too solid, as they were among the heaviest smartphones I've carried in a long time. Weight aside, i-Mate had thought of every option that makes sense for the enterprise and had stuck them on the brimming-with-features devices. They were more rugged than the typical smartphone and would have been ideal for daily duty in the hands of technicians and engineers on the job.
i-Mate had yet to successfully convince carriers that the enterprise devices were worth carrying, however. None of the major U.S. network operators ever stocked or sold them. Without the carrier distribution model to help move the i-Mate smartphones out the door, i-Mate was at a loss. That, combined with the inability of the company to get the product line finalized quickly enough, led to its downfall. The company, which is based in Dubai, hasn't closed its U.S. offices 100%. But after several departments were told to go home, the Chief Software Officer and VP of Sales and Marketing both decided to walk, as well. That leaves only a skeleton staff in Redmond, which apparently will only serve to develop and run an online sales portal to sell unlocked devices to interested parties. Honestly, this should have been i-Mate's goal from the beginning. The devices are too enterprise-y for the U.S. carriers to be interested. i-Mate would have been better off creating an enterprise sales team and targeting the right set of businesses. UPDATE A representative for i-Mate reached out to Over The Air</> and provided the following additional details: * i-mate is not leaving the US market and remains fully committed to ensuring that only the highest quality devices are shipped to market. * all devices will be made available through i-mate authorized resellers. * The Ultimate 6150 and 8150 will be available soon in the US and Canada; and the 8502 and 9502 are still coming to market in Canada, just not the US. * i-mate's Quality Assurance ("QA") function will now be based entirely on location with manufacturing partners, which resulted in 8 people being released from employment. On-site QA teams will allow i-mate to monitor the production of i-mate devices more closely and respond more rapidly to potential issues. * Following the launch of i-Q Services, i-mate's portfolio of services that ensure the best wireless experience out of the box, associated development teams based in Redmond are no longer required.
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