QuickStudy: Presence Technology
Computerworld - In today's information economy, digital technologies let us easily communicate with colleagues and customers around the world. E-mail has given us an asynchronous communications medium that helps free us from the strictures of time-zone differences. We can send a message at any time and get a reply at the other person's convenience.
But there can be times when we may need a quick answer from, say, any of a dozen people, and it takes a while just to find one of that dozen who is available.
Although AIM started as a consumer-grade technology, it was quickly adopted by many businesses that saw its advantages in enabling quick communications and providing presence information.
The rapid growth in its use brought competition, notably from Microsoft and Yahoo Inc., which made their own products that interoperated with the AIM servers. However, AOL soon managed to shut them out, and the result for the past several years has been a plurality of competing networks of IM products that can't talk to one another.
Compatibility? Interoperability? Standards? Not yet, but there's hope for the near future. One potential complication is that in September 2002, AOL received a U.S. patent on IM technology. To date, AOL has given no indication that it intends to charge its competitors with infringement.
A Wider Presence
The traditional model of IM is widening rapidly as more people carry handheld wireless devices and as cellular telephones perform more functions.
LM Ericsson Telephone Co., Motorola Inc. and Nokia Corp. formed the Wireless Village Initiative to build presence technology into their mobile-phone services (also called m-presence capability). Officially known as the Instant Messaging and Presence Services Solution (IMPS), this should let users know if the people they're trying to contact are available, even before they pick up the phone. You'll only have to push a few buttons to see if the other person's phone is turned on and if that person is on the phone, in a meeting or even at lunch.
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