The Open Mobile Alliance has created a lot of hype, as the Symbian group comes together with ‘archrival’ Microsoft to develop common standards. However, its importance is easily overstated: the OMA is just one of many mobile data forums and is unlikely to achieve much. And successful mBusiness applications will be platform independent anyway.
200 mobile players have joined the Open Mobile Alliance, including Nokia and Microsoft.
The mobile industry, including operators, handset and equipment suppliers, and IT firms, has formed a new organization aimed at harmonizing standards. The Open Mobile Alliance has over 200 members, including the largest mobile operator, the largest handset supplier, and the largest IT player (Vodafone, Nokia and Microsoft, respectively).
In its previous incarnation as the Open Mobile Architecture initiative, Nokia dominated the OMA. Microsoft did not join, claiming the forum was irrelevant to it. The new forum allows Microsoft to join a standards body without being seen to be backing down in the face of Nokia.
However, it is easy to overstate Nokia’s battle with Microsoft. Nokia cracked the user-interface question literally years before its competitors, and is still ahead – and business devices make up a small percentage of its sales (less than 10%). Although the company wants to maintain mBusiness market share against Microsoft’s incursions, it’s not crucial.
It is also easy to exaggerate the new body’s importance. The OMA is also far from being the only (or even the main) mobile standards group. There are tens of them, ranging from the GSM Association to the Mobile Electronic Signature Consortium. The number of forums makes it easy for major companies to join up, but still maintain and push their proprietary agendas.
Even more fundamentally, the fight between competing platforms is not particularly relevant to enterprise users: real mBusiness solutions will have to work irrespective of the platform the device is working on. As one end-user said when interviewed by Datamonitor, you don’t pay for your shopping with ‘magnetic stripe’ or ‘chip’ – you pay with Visa.
mBusiness standards that have a real chance of success, such as Siemens/Orsus and Sybase’s iAnywhere, will be platform and device independent. A new talking shop cannot do anything to change that fact.
Related research: Datamonitor, 2002: Mobile Enterprise Infrastructure (DMTC0806)
You can download FREE technology and telecoms reports at www.dmfreereports.com