Open Mobile Alliance (OMA), the industry group recently formed from the merger of the WAP Forum, SyncML initiative and other organisations, has announced specifications for standardising the process of downloading content to mobile devices.
The specification documents call for a single system to handle all types of content, with support for a number of different payment models and that can be brought to market quickly. OMA is keen to halt a growing fragmentation in the content downloads market which has seen operators, device manufacturers and software developers using proprietary technology or creating incompatibilities by altering existing standards-based solutions. The download specifications will initially cover popular items such as ringtones and icons, but will quickly be extended to video and Java applications as these capabilities become widespread.
OMA’s membership encompasses virtually all of the world’s leading manufacturers, operators and developers. The group is keen to show it is making progress in defining standards for key next generation technologies and has conducted an internal reorganisation to better meet the needs of the market. It has established working groups in areas such as Web Services, Requirements, Architecture, Interoperability and formed a Technical Plenary to oversee the development of recommended specifications.
This is a welcome attempt to agree a standard before it’s too late. Already manufacturers, operators and developers are rushing to get proprietary solutions to market. While these early efforts will play an important role in whetting users’ appetities for wireless data services, the danger is that successful systems will start to represent immovable vested interests that prevent a universal standard from becoming established.
There is no doubting the logic behind widespread standardisation and the resulting benefits for everyone in the mobile industry value chain, but it will be difficult to persuade the likes of NTT DoCoMo to alter a successful download system such as i-Appli unless OMA’s proposals can be finalised quickly. The good news is that virtually every major player in the industry has put their weight behind OMA, but its pre-decessor the WAP Forum demonstrated that even the most widely supported industry bodies can fail to establish successful standards.
Originally published by PMN Mobile Industry Intelligence, the subscription-based analysis and insight platform founded by Marek Pawlowski.