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Home Page Editorial
(April 26, 2001)

From Publisher and Managing Editor's Desk... 

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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 service operators.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 elsewhere.

  5. 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 chat?

  6. From the sounds of this, it appears that consumers are the early targets.  Where are the enterprise users? who represents their interest?

  7. 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 focus?

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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 "ubiquitous communication".  

  11. More to come in later editorials.

Go to Consortium press release.

Chander Dhawan - Your Site's Principal Consultant and Publisher

Do you want to make any comments on this editorial? Send us an e-mail.

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