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Martin Geddes: "it's like putting a toilet and paddling pool in the kitchen"

You really need to read Martin Geddes’ Instant Mess.  He expertly skewers mobile presence by talking about how translating IM to the mobile world won’t work. 

The presence model of mobile IM is broken anyway, becuase it confuses presence with availability. I’m not the first to note that an always-on mobile means the green smiley “online” becomes irrelevant. If you take presence to mean “the sense of other” (thanks, Douglas) then the kids are already are engaged in deep presence exchange under the duvet at night by texting away. The stored “precious” SMS from the boy you have a crush on is presence. Don’t let the technologists near this social phenomenon! They don’t get it, all they see is information transfers. A “unified messaging client” is an oxymoron. It’s like putting a toilet and paddling pool in the kitchen because it’s the “water room”.

He tells carriers to focus on making SMS great, and price it to compete with IM over GPRS.  If you misprice the bundle, the customer will switch.  Get the pricing right, and SMS will be a much better experience than mobile IM.

Meanwhile, at iotum we’ll continue to focus on a next generation of presence that will work in the mobile space. 

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Paul Jardine October 4, 2006, 11:31 pm

    I fail to see how the presence model he describes is any more broken on mobile than it is on 'always-on' ADSL broadband.
    Presence breaks when it is not aware of what people are actually doing, and I think it is more about how we present ourselves to others.
    If I think futuristically, what I would really want from a 'presence' application is a whole set of RSS feeds that are linked to my thoughts, movements, physiology and (perhaps later) senses. Each feed is available to a set of people (or entities) that changes according to my mood, context, relationships and needs. It really shouldn't matter whether the point of delivery is mobile or fixed.
    But perhaps I'm really talking about Identity…sometimes it's hard to know.

  • Alec October 5, 2006, 2:42 am

    Paul, I think what you're describing conceptually makes sense. The problem with most presence systems (including SIP/SIMPLE) is their simple watcher / presentity model. What's needed is to have different presentities for different watchers. I understand that XMPP does this, but haven't investigated it deeply yet.

  • Paul Jardine October 5, 2006, 11:07 pm

    Yes, at a technical level XMPP does, kind of, cover it with JEP-0060 and JEP-0163, but the first one is pretty 'top-heavy' and I haven't looked much at the lightweight one yet.
    If you were going to do a 'presence/identity' application like I describe, you would have to build a lot of stuff to simplify the underlying Jabber model for the user. I still haven't found a Jabber implementation I like (e.g. Gush, Psi, Kopete etc), except perhaps, GoogleTalk, though I rarely use it except on my Nokia 770.
    I tried a while back (before the revision of JEP-0060) to design a 'proper' presence model around XMPP, but after a lot of thought I decided it wouldn't work well enough. I might revisit some of the ideas with the JEP-0163 proposal, but I think, in the end, Atom/RSS/GoogleData might be a better solution.

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