RealTime IT News

Mobile Groups Join Forces

Several industry groups, looking to consolidate the efforts in creating a single source for mobile Web service applications, announced their intention Wednesday to form a single entity -- the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA).

OMA is an extension of the open mobile architecture initiative supported by many in the mobile industry today, pooling resources from groups like the SynchML Initiative and the Location Interoperability Forum (LIF) to create universal mobile application programming interfaces (APIs) on the Java framework.

The worldwide group of more than 200 vendors, software developers, content companies and telecoms is expected to bring together disparate works in mobile messaging, through interoperability testing labs and standards approved by approving bodies like the Internet Engineering Task Force and World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), to create a single mobile specification.

Patti Korhonen, Nokia senior vice president of mobile software, said the alliance is designed to bring the fragmented world of mobile communications under one roof.

"The Open Mobile Architecture initiative, launched last November, demonstrated unprecedented momentum in bringing together mobile industry leaders and defining the starting points for a uniform mobile services platform," she said. "We are now excited about consolidating these efforts to form the Open Mobile Alliance and to carry on important industry-wide specification work."

Rival companies in the mobile services industry have been working together for more than a year, on other projects, to bring wireless ubiquity to mobile services -- whether they run on a PDA or over a digital phone.

The Wireless Village announced in February the interoperability of mobile instant messaging on the Ericsson , Motorola and Nokia platforms.

The significance of the announcement shouldn't be overlooked -- in the PC world, this would be very like Windows, Linux and Sun developers coming out and saying they were working together on a common solution.

According to Mark Winther, research firm IDC group vice president for worldwide telecommunications, the OMA is a good step forward for the mobile industry.

"The Open Mobile Alliance reflects a very welcome new attitude in the mobile industry," he said. "An individual technology, product, vendor or operator will have little success without engaging all aspects of the mobile value chain -- devices, networks, applications, and content."

OMA brings together some of the biggest names in the Internet industry, including: America Online , AT&T Wireless , Bell Canada , Compaq Computer Corp. , Deutsche Telekom Mobilnet , Documentum, Inc. , IBM , Disney and Mastercard International, Inc.

OMA officials expect to release consolidated standards in the near future as soon as they are finalized.