Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Monday, February 14, 2005

Push I-MAP Protocol

This is what we have been waiting for. An open standard push-protocol for email.

Abstract : «The Push-IMAP protocol (P-IMAP) defines extensions to the IMAPv4 rev1 protocol [RFC3501] for optimization in a mobile setting, aimed at delivering extended functionality for mobile devices with limited resources. The first enhancement of P-IMAP is that unlike a standard IMAPv4 Rev1 server, which relies on the client to constantly initiate contact to ask for state changes, the P-IMAP server can push crucial changes to a client. In addition, P-IMAP contains extensions for email filter management, message delivery, and maintaining up-to-date personal information. Bindings to specific transport are explicitly defined. »

The old story of email being the killer mobile app still has a lot of mileage, if only it were actually widely available. Mobile email only becomes a killer app once it has push. Where would texting be today if we had to keep pushing a dumb button called "Fetch Messages" every few minutes, or hours, or whatever?

I recently attended a Blackberry seminar to get an update on the new features for BES 4.0, which is the enterprise server that makes it all work. A sales guy exclaimed that he simply didn't understand why more people aren't using Blackberries. Now, I'm a great fan of the Blackberry - it's my main device. I can't imagine not having it now. Definitely, if users try it, they will like it and fall in love with it, the "it" being push email, NOT the device. Apart from the brilliant 10/10 email (thanks to push), the device is about 2 years out of date.

Sure, RIM are focussed on enterprise customers, email functionality and none of the other sexy bits. But, email is a mass consumer product and consumers don't want black-and-ugly, they want silver-and-sexy with all the bells and whistles. The ringtone on a Blackberry sounds like an old Bontempi organ.

Let's hope P-IMAP appears on our mobiles soon. Of course, operators have to juggle with the rates, not cannibalising their text revenues and all the other things they worry about at night. However, the future has to be mobile email and it will one day overtake texting. Once users have it, they won't want to do without it.

It is often overlooked that one of the most powerful features of email over and above texting, apart from the obvious ones, is that practically any device or application on the planet can send an email. I know, plumbing IT systems into texting gateways is "straightforward", but there's the huge chasm of billing to cross. Whoa! It all falls down into that big crevass.

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