GREETINGS!
The Salutation Consortium Newsletter
April 2000

Table of contents

Message from the President
Salutation News
From the Managing Director
Salutation Scenarios
Product Focus
Tech Talk
Perspectives
Upcoming Events

Message from the President

Building Bridges

The Consortium has announced this month two initiatives that demonstrate how Salutation technology bridges protocol and proprietary specific service discovery protocols.

Java release of Salutation-Lite

Salutation builds a bridge to Java and Jini

With the Java version of Salutation-Lite now in beta test, Salutation can emulate the functions of Sun’s Jini service discovery architecture, while expanding Jini’s Java based object locate and load to all operating systems and program languages.

SLP Mapping in Salutation Specification

Salutation builds a bridge to the Internet.

The 2.1 release of the Salutation Architecture Specification demonstrates bridging Salutation with Service Location Protocol (SLP). The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has adopted SLP for use in the Internet environment. The Salutation 2.1 specification shows how Salutation’s APIs can provide a common entry point for local Salutation protocols and remote Internet protocols.

Yet Another Bridge

Salutation builds a bridge to IrDA.

The Infrared Data Association (IrDA) has fast tracked the approval process of an Application Note describing how Salutation may be used with IrDA’s protocol. This process should take no longer than four months.

 

We don’t like to brag, but it seems that Salutation provides bridges to a broader pervasive network!

 

Salutation News

Java Version of Salutation-Lite to be Available in Open Source Code

The Salutation Consortium will be releasing a Java version of Salutation-Lite in May 2000. Beta code for this Java version is currently available for Consortium members.

The port of Salutation-Lite to Java was completed by graduate students at the University of Colorado at Denver, under the direction of Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, Tamal Bose.

Salutation-Lite is royalty free and offered on an open source model to encourage use and further development by software and hardware developers of the next-generation of portable, handheld and palm-sized PCs. With this release, Salutation-Lite is now offered in three implementations. First, it runs on WinTel platforms and Windows®CE over IrDA (Infrared Data Association). Second, it runs on WinTel platforms over Ethernet. Third, the WinTel over Ethernet code now has been ported to Java. In addition to Java, ports to other common operating systems for handheld devices are planned for later this year.

The Java version of Salutation-Lite uses Remote Method Invocation (RMI) to implement a client/server distributed Salutation-Lite application.  The communication between a remote object client and server is implemented in a series of layers.

“We recognize the significance of an independent service discovery protocol in the mobile marketplace, and we were anxious to work with the Salutation Consortium,Esaid Tamal Bose. “We look forward to working with them again in the future.Espan style="color:black">

“The Salutation Consortium is poised to address the ever-changing mobile landscape through intelligent communication,Esaid Robert Pascoe, president of the Salutation Consortium. “Our service discovery model truly links the disparate protocols in the industry.EPascoe further noted that the Java release, coupled with Salutation’s ability to locate and load device drivers and executables, provides a non-proprietary model of Jini.  “Salutation has demonstrated the ability to converge on the functionality of other important service discovery protocols in an open, royalty free offering,E

Salutation-Lite is currently available to Consortium members free of charge by download from the Consortium website (www.salutation.org/lite/liteware.htm).  

Salutation Releases 2.1 Version of Specification

The Salutation Consortium now offers an enhanced specification for the Salutation service discovery architecture—version 2.1. To offer service discovery beyond subnet and directory-based service discovery, this latest version of the specification offers enhanced capabilities that include support for SLP (service location protocol).

SLP is the standard Internet service location protocol approved by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) standards committee. Salutation provides a single API (application programming interface) to access two separate service location protocols simultaneously. Additionally, version 2.1 provides a single service manager to support Salutation protocol locally and SLP on the Internet simultaneously.

The Salutation Architecture 2.1 specification is available free of charge from the Consortium website at www.salutation.org/ordrspec.htm. The new specification maintains the Consortium's agnostic approach to service discovery technologies. The Consortium already offers mappings to IrDA (Infrared Data Association) and Bluetooth for its Salutation-Lite architecture for smart handheld devices.

“For wireless handheld computers to really become ubiquitous, there needs to be an industry-accepted means of information exchange among the different devices offered by numerous vendors,Esaid Robert Pascoe, president of the Salutation Consortium.  “Service discovery should not be the province of a few vendors and their proprietary designs, operating systems and business models.E/span>

Salutation to Participate at HomeNET Conference

Salutation Consortium President, Bob Pascoe, will be participating in a panel on service discovery at HomeNET Forum Summer 2000. Representatives for Jini and UPnP will also be participating on the panel. The conference runs from July 26-28 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more information on the conference, refer to the conference’s Web site at www.homenetforum.com.

Support for Salutation Continues to Grow with New Consortium Memberships

Membership and support for the Salutation Consortium continues to grow, including four new companies, five industry organization and standards bodies, and five academic members.

America Online

America Online (AOL) is the world leader in interactive services, Web brands, Internet technologies, and e-commerce services.

Pistachio, Inc.

Pistachio provides custom-built technology solutions for business and education. They have extensive project experience using C++, Java, Perl and publishing data on the Web.

Square

Square is the world’s leading supplier of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, and provides state of the art Service Management and Contract Management software. Square is looking for ways to leverage Salutation in targeting remote machine monitoring and predictive maintenance.

USA Technologies, Inc.

USA TechnologiesEbusiness focuses on Internet-based and credit card operated pervasive computing devices and networks for small ticket purchases, interactive advertising, and e-commerce.

Consumer Electronics Association

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is an association that represents the consumer electronics industry.  Formerly known as CEMA (and before that EIA/CEG), CEA is a sector of the Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA).  CEA represents more than 600 U.S. companies involved in the development, manufacturing and distribution of audio, video, mobile electronics, communications, information technology, multimedia and accessory products, as well as related services that are sold through consumer channels. 

CABA

The Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) is North America's key source for information, education, and networking relating to home and building automation. Its mission is to encourage the development, promotion and adoption of business opportunities in the home and building automation industry.

NIST

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Technology Administration. NIST Information Technology Laboratory works with industry to improve the quality of public specifications and expedite the development of commercial products. NIST is currently investigating issues in networking for pervasive computing.  As part of this effort they are looking at emerging technologies for resource/device discovery and control. They plan to analyze and contribute to the development of public standards in these areas, such as the Salutation Architecture.

Academic Members

Academic members joining the Consortium in the past few months include Marcus Giese (Montana State University), Professor Alan Leong (University of Washington), Sudakshina Sharma Sarkar (Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India), Heath Westover (University of Washington), and Young Bok Yoon (Pusan National University, South Korea).

From the Managing Director

Mobile Task Force Meeting

Introduction

In the February issue of Greetings! we discussed issues dealing with the mobile office market and our plans to address those issues through a Salutation Mobile Task Force. (Refer to the “From the Managing DirectorEsection of the February newsletter http://www.salutation.org/greetings2k02.htm).

As a result of direction from the Consortium’s board of directors, as well as planning meetings held in Japan and the United States by member company representatives, a set of scenarios and objectives have been developed with the intent to guide the Salutation Mobile Task Force.

These different scenarios and objectives focus on the different pathways that a mobile worker can follow in order to stay connected, maintain his/her information base, and merge the information highway with the paper trail. These different pathways, referred to as the Mobile Triangle, provide a mechanism to meet the mobile worker’s requirement to create hard copy from his/her mobile information base (Refer to the “Salutation ScenariosEsection of the February newsletter http://www.salutation.org/greetings2k02.htm).

The objectives set for the first task force meeting were to simply bring together interested companies to define business opportunities and develop action plans to capitalize on the opportunities of the mobile office market. The Salutation Consortium sponsored and hosted this first meeting on March 28-29 in Dallas, Texas.

The March meeting attracted a wide range of companies interested in developing Salutation enabled solutions for the mobile worker environment. They represented many facets of the business, technology and development communities, who want to work together in creating Salutation based products and solutions for this market. The company representatives that participated in the meeting contributed their business and industry knowledge, product expertise, and planning experience, creating an exceptional problem solving team.

Meeting Overview

Both Bob Pascoe and myself jointly hosted the task force meeting, which included participation from the companies IBM, IDC, Inn Technology, MicroBurst, Muratec (Murata), Pistachio Software, Ricoh, Square USA, Toshiba, USA Technologies, and XtraWorX.

Each attendee received overviews of the Salutation Consortium, Salutation Architecture, and Mobile Computing Environment. Jill House, Senior Mobile Analyst of IDC, delivered an excellent presentation covering the mobile computing market. Ms. House provided the group a significant amount of data and insight on the mobile computing market, which provided an outstanding basis for the business opportunity work session that followed her presentation.

The main focus and bulk of the meeting centered on a working session that involved participation from all of the task force attendees. The working session comprised of a series of idea and information exchanges, detailed discussions on the Salutation Architecture, delineation of key business opportunities, and the identification of the required actions to move forward. Several checkpoints were taken during the working session to allow each participant to define their view of the real business opportunities and to assess those that had been presented and discussed. Each time this was done, it resulted in an expanded list of business opportunities for all of the companies represented. In order to define an executable set of the action plans, the group decided to focus on four primary business opportunities that included:  

·         Walkup and print

·         Affinity with Bluetooth

·         Communication between WinCE and Palm OS

·         Remote monitoring of devices

Additional business opportunities will be addressed at future task force sessions.

Action Plans Developed

The task force derived a set of action plans that focuses on these four business opportunities. These actions will enable interested companies to participate in the specific opportunities that best suit their business direction. Generally, these action plans follow the primary objective of outlining specific plans to prototype and demonstrate Salutation based business opportunities and solutions for mobile business. The results of these actions will be made available to all Salutation Consortium members for review as well as to enable member organizations to determine ways in which they can individually or collectively take advantage of these business opportunities.

A number of companies have expressed interest in contributing to and benefiting from the Salutation Mobile Task Force, but were unable to participate in the initial meeting. Those interested in receiving copies of the meeting results, obtaining detailed information on discussed business opportunities, or participating in future task force work can contact me at [email protected].

 

Salutation Scenarios

In each issue of Greetings! the “Salutation ScenariosEsection highlights potential uses for the Salutation Architecture.  We aim to prod your thinking as you visualize how Salutation might benefit your business.

Frequent Buyer Points

Are you a frequent flyer? Do you earn points staying at hotels in one particular chain? Do you receive bonus points for shopping at the same supermarket or on-line store? In some cases, there’s value in frequenting the same place. But this value hasn’t emerged from using the same device.

Take printing for example. When I need to print, I need to print! I don’t want to go across town to a storefront copy center just to access a printer of a specific brand. There’s no value to me for this type of loyalty. When I need hardcopy output, I want to print to the closest available printing device. For the traveling user like me, this has been a problem. First, attaching to the printing device may require a special cable, access to a local area network, or generation of a diskette to hand off to the printer’s operator. Second, if you can figure out how to make the physical attachment to the device, you probably still need a special device driver to make it work. Where do you get it?

With new wireless connection options, your personal area network will be able to access printers, either directly or through local area network portals. Thanks to Salutation service discovery, this will be a painless operation: turn on your device and locate the printing device that meets your needs.

Once you locate a device, Salutation’s locate and load feature enables access to the specific device driver necessary to run the device you have found. Due to Salutation’s agnostic attitude toward operating systems and protocols, it can be used to locate a device driver for your specific environment. So, if I want to print from my CE mobile computer, you have a Palm hand held, and your friend has a Java-enabled mobile device, we can each use Salutation to locate the same printer and also the device driver needed to run it.

 

Product Focus

Click, Click, Click...

This month’s Product Focus takes a look at Square, a recent addition to the Salutation Consortium. Copyright © 2000 Square

New Consortium Member with Innovative Approach

Square is the world's leading supplier of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, dedicated to providing best of breed, high quality solutions to its customers. This newest Salutation Consortium member company is targeting Remote Machine Monitoring including Automated Meter Read Collection as well as Predictive Maintenance, and sees the opportunity to utilize the Salutation Architecture to simplify application design and implementation. This article provides an introduction to Square and the innovative applications and solutions it delivers to the “Click IndustryE companies whose core business is to sell, rent, lease and service office imaging and output technology.

Click, click, clickE

For companies that sell and service document output devices, this sound is the heartbeat of their business.  Each “clickEof the internal counter of a copier, printer or digital device represents another print, copy or fax.  Called “meter billing,Eit’s the sound of revenue, of costs, of margins, and hopefully, of profits.

Click, click, clickE

For many companies, this sound could also be the ticking of time rapidly passing, of a future fast approaching, bringing new challenges, new ways of doing business, and a whole new set of rules to the game.  Let’s face it; customers are more demanding than ever. They’re looking for support beyond simply taking the product out of the box and plugging it in.  Printers, multifunction peripherals, even digital copiers, are installed in complex networks that require more sophisticated management, sales management, measurement, and support techniques.

Today, companies in the “Click IndustryEface many new challenges including:

·         They can no longer establish and maintain a competitive edge based on price and product specifications.  The situation is further compounded by shorter product life cycles making it more difficult to achieve healthy margins.

·         In response to these competitive pressures, they are attempting to shift to solution selling as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition and add value to their customers.  They are trying to find ways to sell products bundled with software and services such as project management.

·         The popularity of leasing programs and cost-per-copy (CPC) programs has put an increasing burden on manufacturers, resellers and financing companies to calculate profitability and to service these contracts.

·         They must implement a predictive maintenance strategy.

·         Sooner, rather than later, they must incorporate e-Commerce into their business process.

SQUARE APPLICATIONS Meets the Challenges

SQUARE APPLICATIONS, from Square addresses these challenges, and others, with software solutions for the Click Industry. SQUARE APPLICATIONS provides the tools you need to streamline business processes and seamlessly link the various aspects of your business to enhance customer service and efficiently manage a business for growth. By implementing SQUARE APPLICATIONS, you will realize immediate and substantial benefits, including:           

·         Reduced operating costs and enhanced decision support.

·         Improved asset management through individual product tracking, providing full call reporting, billing and depreciation history.

·         Increased cash flow by accurate and on-time billing of rental, lease and service contracts.         

·         Valued-added project management services that you can bundle with your hardware offerings.

·         Increased service call volume through use of a rules-based scheduler for field service engineers.

·         Faster access to important information through statistical reports such as AMCV, MCBF, MTBF, Call Rate, and Up and Down Time.

·         Improved customer relationships by providing customer service teams with all the information they need, right at their fingertips, so they can not only react quickly to customer needs, but anticipate them as well.

Since SQUARE APPLICATIONS is tightly integrated with ERP systems and also has open interfaces to other systems, you can leverage your investment in existing systems and eliminate the need to maintain a separate system.   

What is SQUARE APPLICATIONS?

SQUARE APPLICATIONS is a modular software solution designed to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the way you manage your business. SQUARE APPLICATIONS integrates the various aspects of your service and contract offerings by coordinating all of the related business activities, including contract offerings and billing, advanced service management (field service, repair center and help desk) as well as pre-configuration and refurbishment of systems.  With SQUARE APPLICATIONS, you just don’t see pieces of a puzzle; you see the whole picture. 

By consolidating the many functions of your business into one operating system, SQUARE APPLICATIONS eliminates the inconsistencies and redundancies in your company’s databases.  In effect, SQUARE APPLICATIONS provides a high-tech “dashboardEto drive your business, using a flexible, dedicated information system developed through years of analyzing and understanding what’s under the hood of your business.

How Does SQUARE APPLICATIONS Work?

Contracting and billing processing requires a highly integrated and technically sophisticated solution.  Flexibility is required to meet your customersEneeds for increased variety and more complex offerings and contractual terms.

To meet these requirements, SQUARE APPLICATIONS provides the following functionality:

·         Maintains both standard and customized offerings, templates (default contract values), contracts and features.

·         Provides accurate quotes for contracts and non-contractual service delivery.

·         Captures and implements user-defined contractual and non-contractual terms, conditions and business rules and uses them to support management and billing.

·         Maintains selected customer information and manages the impact of organizational change on contract coverage.

·         Captures and analyzes business events to facilitate event-based billing and to monitor performance and compliance relative to the contract.

·         Accurately calculates and generates invoices based upon defined billing rules.

·         Calculates compensation/payments based upon contractually defined rules.

·         Manages all warranty and service contracts.

·         Tracks and resolves service repair requests.

·         Maintains extensive customer profiles for installed products and services.

An Open System

SQUARE APPLICATIONS can be integrated with existing ERP systems and is fully web-enabled, allowing remote access to critical information in a timely manner.  Open interfaces are available to establish connectivity with your existing systems.

To get you started on the path to full integration, we deploy our team of industry experts to implement SQUARE APPLICATIONS and to help you overcome organizational or technical obstacles.

Why Put Your Trust in SQUARE APPLICATIONS?

Square recognizes that in today’s ultra competitive marketplace one key factor can help you stand out: linking an effective combination of quality product, a top-notch sales staff and superior customer service.

The following are five compelling reasons why you should partner with Square:

·         We are the only company with a solution specifically designed for the Click Industry.  We invest significantly in research and development to optimize existing modules and to add new modules that provide major expansions to SQUARE APPLICATIONS functionality.

·         SQUARE APPLICATIONS has the most functionality of any product on the market.

·         Our industry expertise is based on many years of study and experience.  We employ best practices to reduce costs and speed implementation.

·         We deploy the latest technology available, including a solid commitment to the World Wide Web. SQUARE APPLICATIONS can be used in either a decentralized configuration for separate companies in several locations or as a central system serving one company with offices in multiple countries.

·         Square has a proven track record with companies in the Click Industry.

About Square

Square, is an enterprise applications software manufacturer founded in 1974 in Roermond, The Netherlands.  Square employs a team of skilled, dedicated people who design, develop, maintain, sell and implement software solutions for the contract and service industry.  Square has a proven track record and is proud to have been selected by many multinational companies.  Square works closely with leading ERP system vendors and consulting companies to implement SQUARE APPLICATIONS solutions. Square has offices in The Netherlands, UK, Germany and the United States of America.

 

European Headquarters:
Square SMS b.v.
Marathonlaan 4
6042 JN Roemond
The Netherlands
phone      +31 475 35 51 00
fax           +31 475 35 51 99
e-mail: [email protected]
www.squaresms.com

US Headquarters:
Square USA Inc.
51 Butternut Lane
Basking Ridge, New Jersey 07920   USA
Phone +1 908 630 3550
Fax +1 908 630 3560
e-mail: [email protected]
www.squaresms.com
 

 

Tech Talk

Jini Shouldn't be in a Bottle

Jini technology provides simple mechanisms that enable devices to plug together to form an impromptu community -- a community put together without any planning, installation, or human intervention. Each device provides services that other devices in the community can use.

The Java programming language is the key to making Jini technology work. In a network employing Jini technology, devices are tied together using Java Remote Method Invocation (RMI). The discovery and join protocols, as well as the lookup service, depend on the ability to move Java objects, including their code, between Java virtual machines. For Jini connection technology to succeed, the underlying protocols and infrastructure must become pervasive.

The real meat of Jini is not the ability to discover other devices and services in a network. There are lots of service discovery methods available. The advantage of Jini is the ability to locate and distribute object-oriented Java executables, or proxy objects, that provide access to the service. Providing these proxy objects in the “write once, run anywhereEparadigm of Java is pleasing to the Java crowd. But limiting the use of the technology to Java based networks is preventative to broad acceptance.

The Salutation Architecture provides a Functional Unit (FU) called [DOC Storage]. The original intent of the FU was a temporary holding location for inbound or outbound faxes or a page store for scanned pages or print output. However, the Version 2.0c release of the Salutation Architecture Specification (www.salutation.org) extended [DOC Storage] to include device drivers, application program, executable code and application data. The [DOC Storage] FU Description Record contains a file type attribute for identifying the content of the [DOC Storage] including these new types.

Utilizing this new attribute, a [Client] FU can use Salutation’s QueryCapability command to locate a [DOC Storage] FU containing the content desired. This query may be further qualified as to device type and operating system by interrogating the FileData attribute. With support for Jini proxy objects, a [Client] FU may locate the XYZ printer proxy object.

Once located, the [Client] can use the RetrieveDoc [DOC Storage] command to retrieve the proxy object. After it has been retrieved, the [Client] merely installs the proxy object and uses the device. Following its use, the proxy object may be uninstalled and discarded, freeing up [Client] memory.

Salutation also facilitates proxy object upgrades from manufacturers. The proxy object may be overwritten with an up-level version by using the StoreDoc [DOC Storage] command.

Naturally, the content of [DOC Storage] is not limited to Java proxy objects. For example, a printer may contain several [DOC Storage] FUs each containing a device driver supporting a different operating system. As before, Java based clients may use Salutation’s commands to locate and then load a Java proxy object supporting the printer. A WindowsCE client may locate and load a device driver for that platform. A PalmOS device may locate and load a device driver appropriate for that environment, and so on.

These [DOC Storage] FUs do not have to be stored on the device. They may be in the supporting network or on the Internet. Furthermore, Salutation supports both directory centric and peer-to-peer networks. So no matter what the network configuration, transmission protocol, or operating system mix, Salutation can support locating and loading Jini proxy object, and other objects technologies.

The cork is out of the bottle

Salutation bridges the gap between technology islands. Salutation’s independence of operating system and transmission protocol allow a single service discovery protocol to run on multiple environments over diverse protocols. The [DOC Storage] FU breaks the dependence on a specific device driver or object scheme. With the ability to locate and load Java proxy objects with the broadly applicable Salutation protocol the dependence on Jini’s lookup table implementation is broken. With Salutation, Jini objects can coexist with objects and device drivers written in other code-bases.

 

Perspective

How to Approach the Mobile Market

By Jill House, IDC Senior Research Analyst for Smart Handheld Devices

Recently the Salutation task force met to answer the question of the hour: how best to approach the mobile market.  The mobile market, it is oft remarked, is an excellent opportunity for the broad scale deployment of Internet and Intranet-based initiatives and services, and represents the last mile in terms of services, software, and sales.  The ultimate Holy Grail is to offer a ubiquitous presence to a customer, and for the customer to have ubiquitous access to a product.

Given this as truth, where does a company interested in exploiting this vague definition of an explosive market opportunity begin?  There are several steps IDC recommends to anyone sizing up the opportunity.  Whether a company decided to yeah or nay on the final outcome of the checklists is up to the individuals and the stockholders who determine courses of actions.  The following is a rough guideline of what the mobile market entails and what major concerns and questions should be brought to bear before diving in.

First, what is the service and why should it go mobile?  This is the “Do Not Pass GoEquestion.  If there is no readily identifiable and justifiable reason to make a service, product, software, or concept mobile, then wait it out.  It’s hard to sell something externally that can’t be sold internally.

There are millions of different services and systems which would benefit from becoming omnipresent.  The trick is to nail down the specific service, usage models and the value add.  At the moment, mobility is rising, but mobile services are nascent.  Many are kludgy solutions that require expertise and patience from the user.  Be sure that this early phase of hardship will be outweighed by the usefulness of the service, device, software, or system.  Windows CE in its second phase offered color, video, audio, and messaging, but didn’t find an audience because the tradeoffs in terms of usability were too high.  Similarly, if printing in a hotel room from a Palm is the service which a company wishes to promote, be sure that the need will outweigh the initial hardships of set up and potential support which will be needed in the first iteration.  Once a compelling application is found, an audience needs to be identified.

The second criteria is identification.  Who does the company wish to target?  The mobile market is usually defined by mobile professionals, those highly heralded few who roam the neighborhood, state, country, or world looking to close sales, merge companies, or extend the human touch to the last leg of negotiations. 

This segment, while the most easily identifiable, is only one of four dedicated mobile opportunities, and only one of hundreds of potential mobile user profiles, within and without the business community.  There are day extenders, who bring work home for the evening, weekend, or even during vacation time.  There are telecommuters, a growing breed who work from home on a consistent basis or are not located in the immediate vicinity of HQ.  There are even locally mobile professionals, such as IT folks, who roam the halls troubleshooting, rarely contacting their desks in the interim.   

Outside of the business world, there are mobile consumers.  Working moms and dads trying to coordinate children pick up, drop off, and activities.  There are the youth markets with an eye for the modern who are mobile within malls and other entertainment locales, and between school, home, and entertainment.  There are stay at home moms and dads running errands and even business professionals who have a personal life which involves commuting and roaming times.

The question becomes, who do you target?  Niche targets towards just the mobile professional market can result in niche opportunities and niche numbers.  Too broad an audience can cause a degradation of focus and potentially of services, especially in the early phases.  Pushing the right service at the wrong time can be just as disastrous as missing the market opportunity altogether.  WAP services may be compelling, but without proper payment plans and setting user expectations, the churn rates will destroy all chances of getting the fledgling market off the ground.  

The best approach is to target small but think big.  Find the killer service for one segment and customers will find spill over into their personal lives on their own, thereby pointing the way towards broader adoption.  Devices such as Palms, pagers and cell phones have all seen this, as has WWW usage and email.  These products and services were business and purpose specific, until the user community pushed the limits.  All services start as a niche target, and must be cultivated to grow into a larger scale opportunity. Service and discovery software, intranet services, and the rest seem likely to follow the same adoption path.

Finally, with the audience and solution in mind, the outstanding question is how and with what to implement?  There are a growing multitude of devices to choose from and an ever expanding list of standards to implement.  This, for many companies, has been the stalling point.  Investing in an unknown with no history or assured future can make the best of companies quake.  This is the gambling portion of the equation, where individuals within the company must turn into industry watchers and predict the future of devices, standards, and companies. 

There are no easy answers to this portion.  The best guide is to go with a known quantity that has the best potential for mass adoption based on current acceptance and positioning and past history of execution and throughput.  For start-ups, this means examining the executive board and the technology thought leadership.  Many start-ups never make it off the ground and many more get gobbled up by competitors or larger companies who saw the value of the technology or service.  Riverbed had an excellent technology for the mobile market, which Aether Systems recognized and wanted to get its hands on.  Motorola saw the potential for synchronization software and bought Starfish to push it in house.  Microsoft saw the potential of the STNC browser solutions, and brought their team in inside to work on their own initiatives.  Some of these companies continued their work with outside firms and legacy customers.  Some, however, did not. 

For more established companies, this means examining the past history of logistics and throughput as well as the financial and personnel commitments to the new space.  Will IBM continue its focus on WAP and the pervasive computing division?  Will HP continue to devote resources towards their handheld companion product line?  For consortiums, what is the marketing power, what is the technology, who is involved in setting the standards, and who holds rights to the important pieces of the IPR puzzle?  All of these are internal chances that any company looking to take itself mobile will face in picking its outside providers and alliances.

The mobile market represents a vast opportunity, but it is still a growing market concept.  As such, for the companies who get there first and do their solutions right, they are offered the chance of becoming a de facto standard or brand, much the way Palm is now a known brand in the mobile marketplace. However, the market is still in the grips of growth and has yet to shake itself out of excess and extremities, which should serve as a word of caution to all who enter this market unarmed in the shield of competitive analysis, market forecasts, and opportunity alignments.

 

 Upcoming Events

Internet Device Builders Conference

-         Presentation: Service Discovery for Internet Devices (Bob Pascoe)

-         May 2, 2000 - Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, California

HomeNET Forum Summer 2000

-         Panel: APIs, Standardization and Open Source Technologies for Appliances and Network Connectivity (Bob Pascoe)

-         July 27, 2000 - Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, California