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ActiveBuddy Goes Wireless

ActiveBuddy Inc. is cutting the wires, so to speak, on interactive agents that are developed and deployed with its software.

The New York City and Sunnyvale, Calif.-based provider of software for developing and hosting interactive agents is launching the BuddyScript Connectivity Service. The new service will let interactive agents, or "bots," developed with the BuddyScript Software Development Kit (SDK) exist in the wireless world.

With the BuddyScript Connectivity Service, any developer registered at www.BuddyScript.com can now launch an interactive agent on wireless handsets, PDAs and other devices that have WAP, SMS or e-mail capability. Research in Motion (RIM) devices can also "house" IM-based bots.

Developers can both create new IM bots and extend current agents to wireless-enabled consumers and business users, as an interactive agent can be used to provide access to legacy applications for those in the travel industry, financial services industry, retailing and brokerages.

But the service is especially attractive to enterprise developers, because they can immediately launch prototypes of wireless applications without requesting intervention from corporate security staff during the development period. ActiveBuddy says while the BuddyScript SDK provides basic connectivity to text messaging environments, wireless networks are generally secure and private, creating a barrier for developer testing. BuddyScript Connectivity Service goes beyond protocol support and repackages wireless network services for the immediate publication of interactive agents, and a wireless application only needs to be written once to run over a multitude of devices.

The BuddyScript SDK already contains what developers need to test interactive agents -- a 3-user developer edition server and a message server module that enables the publishing of the bot on several wired IM networks, including AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger. But publishing on the wireless networks is "just much more difficult and costly," said Kathy Englar, ActiveBuddy director of product marketing. "So we're packaging wireless access separately."

Use of the new service is free during an introductory period, and pricing is not being announced, Englar said. "We want to give everyone the chance to try it out," Englar said.

While use of the SDK and the developer edition server are free, a developer needs one of the company's more advanced -- read, paid -- servers to deploy her agents to a wider audience. ActiveBuddy can also host IM bots in application-service provider (ASP) style.

Englar expects that the BuddyScript Connectivity Service will probably be used more in the enterprise environment rather than for consumer applications, although ActiveBuddy is definitely encouraging its use in both areas.

Bob Woods is the managing editor of InstantMessagingPlanet.