HP Winks ;-) at Jabber

Seeing a cash cow in the burgeoning Instant Messaging sector, Hewlett-Packard Monday announced a deal to become a worldwide distribution and development partner with Denver-based Jabber Inc.

As part of the deal, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer and printer maker will be jointly selling Jabber on its existing Linux-based and HP-UX platforms as well as any system bundled with Microsoft Windows 2000 and 2003 Enterprise Server edition, which HP co-developed with Jabber. The companies say their first versions should debut beginning this summer.

Jabber’s commercial product and its open source counterpart, Jabber.org, are based on the eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) , which ensures that all XMPP-compliant solutions can interoperate. XMPP achieved IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) Working Group status in October 2002 and is quickly moving towards full ratification. IM guru Jeremie Miller started the Jabber project in early 1998.

“HP’s agreement to co-develop, sell, and service the Jabber platform within global accounts speaks to the gathering momentum behind Jabber and XMPP as the underlying architectures that will drive the adoption of a broad range of presence-enabled applications, beginning — not ending — with IM.” Jabber president and CEO Rob Balgley said in a statement.

Along with joint development and resale of the Jabber’s commercial server, HP said it will also offer service and customization the IM play’s open and extensible XML-based enterprise messaging architecture.

The partnership certainly adds fuel to the IM fire since Jabber is compatible with Microsoft , AOL and Yahoo! . The competition is fierce, with upwards of 77 million Americans using an online instant messaging system last month.

But unlike the big three’s commercial products, Jabber focuses on messaging for businesses and service providers. It also offers custom programming, installation, and integration services. The company’s investors include France Telecom , Intel Capital , Webb Interactive Services , AT&T , BellSouth . Currently, Jabber boasts more than 3 million commercial seat licenses.

Jabber and HP say they can help expand the way companies look at IM. Free IM services will be found in 70 percent of enterprises by 2003. And while “free” is convenient and popular, analysts with Gartner suggest that there are serious security flaws in resting solely on public IM.

“Industry drive toward adoption of a common IM and presence protocol is being fueled through vendor alliances,” said Gartner Research Director Maurene Caplan Grey.

Jabber has also managed to score similar compatibility deals with No. 2 software maker Oracle and Delphi Forums message board architect Prospero Technologies.

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