The coalition's goal is to break through the barriers of
creating a seamless instant messaging standard for all Internet
service providers. The group intends to eradicate closed,
proprietary instant messaging systems and replace it with a single
operating standard to provide private and secure messaging
Brian Park, Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO)
senior producer, took the opportunity to invite other firms to join
the technology alliance.
"Internet users want to exchange instant messages with each
other, regardless of which service they use," Park said. "We
welcome the participation of other interested instant messaging
companies who share the vision of interoperability based on open
standards and encourage them to join our efforts."
Nearly every member of the group has accessed the instant
messaging system of America Online
Inc. over the past year. The companies played a technical game
of dodge ball, gaining access to America Online's (NYSE:AOL)
instant messaging servers, being blocked from access, circumventing
the barriers, only to be permanently blocked from shared access
Each time a flare-up of what's been called the "Instant
Messaging Wars" occurred, AOL made it clear the leading Internet
access provider would not allow its members privacy to be
IMUnified intends to make publicly available by the end of
August a set of specifications that will enable functional
interoperability among its members' instant messaging services.
Coalition members plan to implement the specifications as soon as
IMUnified intends to be among the first to support protocols
developed by the Internet
Engineering Task Force in its efforts to create standards for
instant messaging interoperability.
The IETF is scheduled to meet in Pittsburgh, PA for its 48th
session July 30 through August 4 and the Instant Messaging and
Presence Protocol is in the agenda.
Ross Bagully, Tribal Voice chief executive officer, said the
formation of the group would create an open standard for instant
messaging and would be a big win for the users of all instant
"We are committed to supporting the creation of an
open-standards solution based on the work going on at the IETF,"
Bagully said. "This announcement brings us one step closer to
making open communication between all instant messaging services a
Initially, IMUnified intends to build upon technologies already
used by many coalition members to enable their Internet users to
communicate freely with each other. Subsequently, IMUnified would
focus its efforts on the implementation of deeper interoperability
standards to rapidly incorporate the emerging specifications of the
IETF standards, when set.
Yusuf Mehdi, MSN vice president, said the groups members would
work together to enhance the privacy and security of an integrated
instant messaging network.
"One of the things that makes this coalition so exciting is the
opportunity to work together and learn from each other so that we
can create a system that is even more private and more secure than
what is available today," Mehdi said.
Instant messaging system integration and interoperability is a
political hotbed because developing a single standard is the key to
developing global unified messaging systems.
Marc Linden, Phone.com (NASDAQ:PHCM)
group vice president of carrier applications, said developments in
wireless services requires that tech companies cooperate to develop
and open standard for instant messaging.
"Web-enabled wireless phones will put 'always-on' instant
messaging in the pockets of hundreds of millions of new users
around the world," Linden said. "We want to give each and every one
of these new users the broadest amount of choice and flexibility
when they seek to reach out and communicate with others."
Last week Jabber participated in the Open Source Software
Conference, where it announced that more than 5,000 Internet and
applications service providers had adopted its Jabber.org open source server platform
for instant messaging.
Just 10 weeks after the it first became available from the open
source project, Jabber.com early adopters include major
corporations, other open source projects, a wide variety of service
providers, and notable dot-com companies.
Andre Durand, Jabber.com general manager, said the company
believes that the instant messaging industry offers the same growth
trajectory as e-mail witnessed in the mid-90s.
"A pattern that drove the growth to some approximately 1.3
million e-mail servers is being witnessed as enterprises demand
flexibility and control over their instant messaging services,"
Durand said. "This creates a tremendous opportunity for Jabber.com
to become the clear leader in enterprise instant messaging
Jabber's extensive instant messaging approach leverages the
application as an ideal gateway to future uses that incorporate
device, mobile and Internet Protocol telephony.
Jeremie Miller, Jabber open source project founder, said open
source solutions could mend instant messaging woes.
"Since Jabber is a fellow project within the open source
community, we believe it is important to meet with the leaders of
other open source projects from around the world to pursue exciting
new opportunities for Jabber integration," Miller said.
The Jabber project has been recently strengthened through a
surge of new developer support. The developer network encompasses
hundreds of software developers worldwide, making daily
contributors to advances in more than a dozen sub-projects.
Some of the sub-projects include compatibility with the
Linux open source programming.
AOL, the IMUnified group, and open source proponents are sure to
clash at the IETF's forthcoming meeting. Though no open standard
for instant messaging has been determined, two of the three groups
will most likely walk away for the standard-setting agenda
dissatisfied with the outcome of the IETF's efforts to establish an
interoperable, secure and private standard for instant
Rob Enderle, Giga Information
Group Inc. (NASDAQ:GIGX)
analyst, said it really is in the best interest of all parties to
come up with a set of standards because the market is significantly
"The thing is, if you are a company or a government agency and
you were to develop a standard, the group creates a fairly strong
argument that the standard should not be AOL," Enderle said. "A
government body or a large corporation does not want to get cubby
holed. The message is that AOL is going to create a cubbyhole to
build a technology that locks you into a technology you may not be
able to get out of."
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