Feeds

AOL makes arms-length messaging concession

Talk amongst yourselves: we own the address book

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

Here's an aside for the Ayn Rand-reading equity and buyout specialists who like to swagger around Silicon Valley these days: A Little Government can be a wonderful thing.

Forty eight hours after the Federal Trade Commission announced that it was investigating AOL's instant messaging on potential antitrust grounds, the company has cobbled together a proposal for interoperability.

AOL describes the "IMX Architecture" Internet draft as solving interoperability issues with "America Online's Instant Messaging Services" That's three paragraphs in, and we reckon, that's about the point that Federal lawyers stop reading. But from here on in it gets interesting, largely on the basis of what AOL has left out.

AOL has for the first time acknowledged that other instant messaging networks exist. But that's about as far is goes.

For example, AOL isn't documenting the wire protocol that clients need. The company currently maintains two such protocols, one a more or less functional protocol for the ICQ service, and an undocumented protocol for its AIM instant messanger.

Rather, the draft describes a server-to-server protocol that allows postings made on other instant messaging services to be read by AOL's network, and vice versa.

Despite a report over at CNet which suggests that the draft augurs "full interoperability between AOL's IM networks and competitors, data encryption, single-service registration, and the preservation of existing screen names" - the draft actually does nothing of the sort.

Registration isn't even alluded to in the draft, leaving AOL the gatekeeper. In the world envisaged by AOL's draft, rival messaging services will be able to post messages to AIM or ICQ users, and vice versa, but the registration process and the client base remains with AOL.

You ain't no buddy of mine

Also, there's no guarantee that your chum on a rival network will show up on your buddy list. Where the weight of installed base is everything, this leaves AOL holding all the cards, as it effectively controls the user interface. There's no guarantee you'll be able to add an "alien" friend to your buddy list, as the protocol doesn't account for persistent IDs.

Bearing in mind that AOL has a huge influence on the distribution channels, this effectively hands the 'Buddy List' business to the folk who have the existing user base, which is, er ... AOL. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Fast And Furious 6 cammer thrown in slammer for nearly three years
Man jailed for dodgy cinema recording of Hollywood movie
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?