Feeds

AOL makes arms-length messaging concession

Talk amongst yourselves: we own the address book

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Application security programs and practises

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. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.