(April 26, 2001)
Publisher and Managing Editor's
Nokia, Motorola and Ericsson
Announced Wireless Village Initiative on April 26, 2001. What does it
mean and what still needs to be done in the standards area?
"Wireless instant messaging is an important extension of wireless
e-mail and Internet chat. There is no doubt that this application has
significant potential of maintaining universal contact between consumers and
professionals anytime and
anywhere. Standards are important to ensure that this goes beyond the
devices and networks coverage of individual operators.
Therefore, this initiative is timely. But there is more to it than the
short press announcement from three giants in wireless handset and network
infrastructure space. Here is MobileInfo.Com's viewpoint on this initiative in a point form:
From what we understand
Wireless Village will address the emerging space of wireless instant
messaging and knowledge of person's location. Hence its name Mobile IMPS
(Instant Messaging Presence System). It is a major enhancement of
text messaging that is hugely poular in Europe but not so in North
America except for e-mail - Blackberry style.
IMPS will cover
architectural specifications, protocol specifications and test
specifications. We hope and believe that will lead to interoperability
specifications for multiple devices, network technologies and wireless
The instant messaging
specification will be based on prevalent protocols and other
well-adapted standards, such as SMS (Short Messaging Services), MMS
(Multimedia Messaging Services), WAP (Wireless Application Protocol),
SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), and XML (Extensible Markup Language).
This service will include security capabilities for user authentication,
secure message transfer and access control. Operators will find these
specifications applicable to both existing 2G, new 2.5G (e.g., GPRS), as
well as emerging 3G wireless network technologies.
First version of reference
materials will be available by 4Q 2001. We think that it is highly
ambitious target in the current climate where focus of the industry is
Founding members are the
three giants in handset and network infrastructure segment of our
industry. We are glad that three competitors have come to the
conclusion that defacto standards are important and they must cooperate
in certain ways and compete in other ways. But this is too small a
vendor list to create a standard for such an important area of wireless
applications. Where are the device manufacturers (beyond the smart
phones), where are the network operators and ISPs like AOL? Do
these people know a thing or two about instant messaging and Internet
From the sounds of this, it
appears that consumers are the early targets. Where are the
enterprise users? who represents their interest?
Where are the large mobile
application systems integrators like IBM, EDS and others? Is
instant messaging just an extension of SMS? If so, is that not a narrow
Does the trio have enough
expertise in processing of tens of thousands of instant messages per
second? May be, that is not important at the specification stage.
May be, we are talking about switching messages - something
telecommunication vendors do understand. Should Cisco be worried in
being left out initially? May be, we are talking about processing
details which are moot issues with Sun's and IBM's super-scalar and
parallel processor. Shall we say, you do have to worry about message
transformation (a la WebSphere functionality)? We suggest that IBM and
Sun should get into this consortium right away!
On the whole, we are
delighted at this standardization effort. But the industry has to
worry about many other standards which are more important. Should we not
worry about user interface design for smart phones. The way we input
information, the number of thumb wheels and keys, their placement and so
on are as important, if not more important, as how the instant messaging
works under the cover. You can hide what is inside with a cover but you
can not hide the user interface.
Having announced the
initiative, the trio should court a few more important players
(MobileInfo suggests IBM, Sun, Microsoft, RIM, and Palm). We
suggest that the number is small enough to get decisions made
efficiently but large enough to bring different perspectives and
expertise in areas that do matter. Let vendor pride be set aside in the
interest of expanding the market and give real meaning to
More to come in later
to Consortium press release.
Dhawan - Your Site's Principal Consultant and Publisher
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