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Openwave Unveils New Unified Messaging Software

Openwave Systems Inc. is in the midst of a busy week.

A day after it introduced its product architecture for wireless General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and third-generation (3G) systems, the offspring of the Phone.com/Software.com merger launched new communications software for unified messaging.

The company has joined forces with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Cisco Systems Inc. and IBM Corp. to provide a unified solution, based on Voice Extensible Markup Language (VoiceXML), for communications service providers.

The software will be interoperable with Cisco's AS5300 Voice Gateways and will offer service providers the ability to deploy a variety of new communications services that work with existing networks.

But what is so special about unified messaging? For the myriad CSPs, unified messaging is a way for them to offer integrated communications at the highest level.

For those firms that offer such products, like Openwave, the market has hardly seen its zenith, as analyst firm Ovum Group predicts that the total revenues from unified messaging services are will balloon from $1.2 billion in 2001 to $31 billion in 2006. Openwave is working for a large share of that software market, in which giants Microsoft Corp. and Nokia Corp. already have been plying their trades.

By incorporating the new VoiceXML to carry voice content on IP-based networks, Openwave hopes to stay ahead in what is a fairly fresh market. VoiceXML allows the separation of voice scripts from the actual hardware that records and plays voice, and utilizes standard HTTP servers for the deployment of distributed voice applications.

What this does is power voice access servers (such as Cisco's AS5300 Voice Gateways) which CSPs have already deployed in their networks. The platform also supports standard interfaces for third-party technology developers, including those that offer text-to-speech (TTS) and automatic speech recognition (ASR).

Openwave will sell its new unified communications software directly to CSPs and through established system integrators.

As for what firms are interested in Openwave's wares, Dean Douglas, General Manager of Wireless E-business Services for IBM, said Big Blue's Global Services unit is building a dedicated practice around the new Cisco and Openwave VoiceXML architecture.

Openwave last made waves over a week ago when it revealed that it had posted earnings of 9 cents per share, effectively blowing away analyst consensus estimates of 3 cents per share.

But, perhaps more importantly, the software maker also said it had secured China Mobile Communications Corp. as a major client for its communications software. CMCP serves roughly 80 percent of China's mobile phone business.



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