TECH ANALYSIS: Mobile and wireless communications may not be a driving force behind the reported possible merger between IBM and Sun, but the potential for significant advances is intriguing. Combine IBM Lotus Sametime with Sun's Java, and the possibility of mobile phones becoming unified communications platforms for both businesses and consumers gets closer to reality.
Buried deep within the bowels of IBM's
Website is a December
2008 paper from the IBM Institute for Business Value,
called "Go mobile,
grow ... Should mobile Internet services be the next big growth gamble for mobile
The gist of the IBM
paper is that as
mobile device hardware becomes commoditized and differentiation is based more
on bundling and the user interface, mobile device makers need new growth
opportunities. Specifically, "Mobile device makers, with their
existing broad audience, ability to integrate hardware and software, and their
collaborative business arrangements with mobile network providers and Internet
service providers, have an opportunity to gain a foothold in what is likely to
become a highly competitive market," according to the paper.
With this in mind, when I consider the potential sale of Sun Microsystems to
I have to wonder if maybe the melding
(and Java) with IBM (and Lotus Sametime)
could help significantly drive the mobile feature phone industry forward. Specifically,
if the sale could move it toward a time when the feature phone morphs into a
purpose-built unified communications platform instead.
When I look at the current roster of Java ME and Java FX phones offered by
Sun partner Sony Ericsson, I see rich media devices-offering high-quality
photos and video capabilities-that also have all the messaging features you
expect (with Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support, even).
Then I look at Sametime and see integrated messaging services, collaboration
tools and presence.
What if IBM were to take the two, merge
them in a mobile platform that leverages accepted standards such as SIP
(Session Initiation Protocol) and IMS, then reach out to service providers to
bring it all together on the back end? Perhaps BroadSoft
and its rich and
flexible UC platform, which is marketed to carriers and service providers,
could be an early target for integration.
Suddenly, then, carriers would be able to offer a fairly rich set of
integrated communications services to both business and consumer customers
alike, and they could make it happen through inexpensive, purpose-built
devices, not fattened-up smartphones that are trying to be all things to all
Now, buying Sun to get at Java is a bit like buying a cow to get a fresh
burger, so I hardly think this would be driving the business decisions behind
such an acquisition. But I do like the potential that would come as a collateral
eWEEK Labs Senior Technical Analyst Andrew Garcia can be reached at email@example.com.