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Ericsson Pushes IM Interop

Light Reading
LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
2/26/2003

LM Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY) raised the profile of instant messaging (IM) and presence services today by creating an interoperability test program for firms developing IM solutions (see Vendors Target IMP Interop).

The Swedish vendor says it wants to stimulate the potential for instant messaging on mobile devices and believes its interoperability initiative will help get working products, such as server software for carriers, onto the market quicker. Its move is supported by other players in the sector such as Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and presence system specialist Ecrio Inc., among others.

"We have invited many others to join in and expect them to do so. We want to do this quickly and help get solutions out into the market that will help stimulate IM and presence services," says Ericsson spokesman Mats Thoren.

Of course, Ericsson has its own Instant Messaging and Presence Services (IMPS) solution that it is keen to sell to operators, so this is not a simple act of kindness. "Yes, we have our own product that is compliant with Wireless Village specifications that are endorsed by the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA). It enables people to send instant messages to each other even if they are using different IM products."

So what about these villages and alliances? Well, the market at present is fragmented, and comprises a number of vendor-specific solutions, such as those from AOL Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: AOL) and Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO). It was this fragmentation that led to the formation of the Wireless Village initiative, which had the stated aim of ensuring the "interoperability of wireless messaging, instant messaging, and presence services." Now it is part of OMA, which has the broad remit of working towards wireless open standards (see Hey, Hey! We're the OMA!).

Ericsson's interoperability initiative complements the work of OMA, says Thoren, and "the industry will grow faster with such developments." Sharad Sharma, CEO of presence and availability solutions company Teltier Technologies (a partner of Ecrio), concurs: "This is a positive move for the IM community, and a positive response to the Wireless Village initiatives." Sharma sees it as a good interim step while the industry works towards true open standards.

But Unstrung's own research analyst Gabriel Brown, author of the latest Wireless Oracle report, "Instant Revenue: Deploying Wireless Instant Messaging and Presence Platforms," is more skeptical about the move, despite being upbeat about the possibilities for IM and presence services in general.

"The Open Mobile Alliance's instant messaging and presence group is already running regular interoperability tests, so it's hard to see the point to this initiative," says firebrand Brown. "What are they trying to say? That the group drafting the standards can't run a test? If this is the case, it shreds the credibility of the standards work."

However, Brown suggests an alternative and more positive viewpoint. "If they're simply trying to raise the profile of Wireless Village and interoperable wireless instant messaging generally, then the initiative is more useful. It would be fair to say that Wireless Village has lost momentum and needs some kind of boost, but ideally this would come from a carrier buying into the concept rather than another vendor-led consortium."

— Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung

The latest Wireless Oracle report, “Instant Revenues: Deploying Instant Messaging and Presence Platforms” addresses the almighty scrap between the various IM standards groups in greater depth and is available for just $400 by clicking here: http://www.wireless-oracle.com/subscribe.asp. An even better deal is to buy a 12-month subscription at the special offer price of just $899, and you get full access to the archive. Talk about value for money!

Editor’s note: Neither Light Reading nor Unstrung is affiliated with Oracle Corporation
(nor with Orca Air)

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