Comdex: OMA poised to announce eight mobile specs

The Open Mobile Alliance (OMA), a cross-industry alliance between telecommunications and high tech, is expected to unveil a set...

The Open Mobile Alliance (OMA), a cross-industry alliance between telecommunications and high tech, is expected to unveil a set of eight specifications for creating mobile applications and services.

Over the past year, OMA, which was founded by Nokia, Sun Microsystems, Oracle and others, admitted key rival Microsoft to its ranks and now totals 296 companies.

"You would be hard pressed to name any major company that is not in the OMA," said Jacob Christfort, a vice-chair on the OMA and chief technology officer for Oracles mobile products and services division.

The organisation has also absorbed the WAP Forum, the Location Interoperabilty Forum, the MMS Interoperability Group, the SyncML Initiative and the Wireless Village Initiative.

The eight specifications, which will be announced this week and released by the end of the month, include mobile browsing, multimedia messaging, digital rights management, domain name server lookup via mobile devices, mobile content download, e-mail push notification and user/device profiles.

"Up until now wireless middleware companies and application developers had to have membership in five different organisations and it was difficult to allocate resources," said David Hayden, president of MobileWeek.

The set of OMA standards, if adhered to by all of the constituent players in the mobile industry, will allow developers to write once and deploy an application across a plethora of devices including mobile phones, handhelds and converged devices.

However, Hayden remains somewhat sceptical of the ability of the organisation to house numerous rival companies.

"There could be some issues and a potential power struggle between Microsoft and Nokia. Microsoft wants to push mobile .net services using XML and Soap and Nokia has its platform. Both companies have different objectives," said Hayden.

However, OMA members appear to be ready to overcome their differences, said Christfort. "A good specification leaves all of the parties just a bit unhappy," he added.

The specifications will also speed applications and services to market according to Harry Kolar, director of strategy, Pervasive Computing division at IBM Software Group.

By allowing developers to work with a set of industrywide standards, it will also encourage smaller companies to compete with the likes of Oracle and IBM, said Christfort.

OMA also announced a three-phase program called the OMA Release Program to ensure standardisation and interoperability between services, applications and devices.

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