Openwave, opens back door for US mobile messaging

Service agreement with Verisign

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Openwave Systems Inc has opened a back door into the US market for mobile messaging through a service agreement with VeriSign Inc, and a new cross-network compatible version of its gateway product,

Tony Cripps writes

The Redwood City, California-based company was unavailable for comment as ComputerWire went to press. However, reading between the lines, the agreement looks like a sensible way for Openwave to flex its messaging muscles in the US without having to openly court operators.

Instead, Openwave's messaging platform will be made available to US mobile operators as a novel service bureau offering via Mountain View, California-based VeriSign's infrastructure organization. The deal represents a major opportunity for Openwave to capitalize on the mobile messaging opportunities in its home market.

The company has so far ceded ground in the early rounds of messaging uptake in other major geographies to European-based rivals such as Logica Plc, CMG Plc and LM Ericsson Telefon AB, and at home to Comverse Inc. However, these vendors have concentrated on selling messaging software directly to mobile carriers.

Openwave's proposition to US operators is doubly interesting in light of the cross-network capabilities of its Mobile Messaging Gateway (MMG), which is now available integrated with its Mobile Instant Messaging (MIM).

Unlike most territories, the uptake of messaging services in the US has been hobbled to date by the lack of a single network standard. Where Europe, for example, has all-over GSM coverage, the US has a mixed bag of GSM, TDMA and CDMA networks.

This lack of a single network standard has made it difficult to offer messaging services that are able to bridge the different networks. Operators wishing to offer such services have had to install gateways for translating SMS traffic.

By partnering with VeriSign, which offers its MobileSpring-derived Metcalf GM technology, operators will now be able to offer cross-network messaging services without needing to install and manage the equipment themselves.

The integration of MMG and MIM means that services are not limited to SMS but also takes in email, and instant messaging enhanced by presence technology that indicates when users' "buddies" are in their vicinity.

Services will be available to users of SMS- and WAP-enabled handsets, as well as next-generation handsets utilizing the Wireless Village specification and suitably enabled PCs. It is unclear whether Openwave and VeriSign will offer similar service bureau offerings outside of the US.

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