Kodiak Networks is launching a new mobile software suite to quickly and easily let users connect with groups of other users. Kodiak Connected Portfolio is designed to work with any phone, including any mobile phone, using any protocol, located anywhere in the world. The only limitations are that the carrier for the originating mobile phone must support the service and the phone must have the companys client software installed.
The service works using standard voice communications and determines presence using SMS (Short Message Service), which is virtually ubiquitous with mobile users. However, the originating station can also include land-line phones or IP phones in the groups it calls, and it is capable of using SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) to determine presence. According to the company, the software suite includes a conferencing feature that lets a user of a mobile device create a conference group and then initiate the call with a single click, using the phonebook on the existing phone. The phone that initiates the call must support Java, Symbian or Windows Mobile. The receiving phones simply need to be able to receive phone calls.The service also includes a voicemail service using SMS notification for users without voicemail and a group SMS application that lets a user send one message to multiple users. Kodiak offers a similar service to Cingular Wireless (now part of AT&T) for its push-to-talk users. However, a Cingular spokesperson told eWEEK that the company is still evaluating the new Kodiak software and has not decided yet whether to offer it. "This completely blows open the people you can reach," said Craig Farrill, president and CEO of Kodiak, of San Ramon, Calif. "You can create a conference call in seconds," he said. "You can take it with you anywhere. It will work with a standard GSM network anywhere in the world. Were breaking through the roaming barrier." Farrill also noted that his product works with CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) phones as well, and will roam globally with them, assuming you can find a place outside North America and southern India that uses CDMA. Farrill said the product already works with most of the top handset and smart phone manufacturers, and that all thats necessary to offer it in the United States is agreement from carriers. He said the product is being used in India now for rapid decision-making.One strong benefit to the new software, according to Farrill, is that it doesnt require carriers to install new infrastructure. It will already work with existing 2G (second-generation) voice and messaging services. Farrill said he thinks carriers will like it because using it drives up usage and costs little to implement."I think that for them, it probably makes sense," said Peter Jarich, an analyst for Current Analysis. "Everyone knows Kodiak for push-to-talk solutions. They have high quality and low latency. They have Orange, Cingular and Alltel," Jarich said. "But were not all doing push to talk yet on our cell phones so its extending their value.""I think the application makes sense as well," Jarich said. "Theyre decidedly unsexy in this IMS world where everyones talking about video and gaming. These features like presence, or group SMS or voice messaging is not really sexy, but its something operators know how to make money off of," he explained."Its not at all flashy," Jarich said, explaining that carriers will love it anyway. "It doesnt seem very slick. Its an extension of what people are already doing." He added, "Incremental isnt what people want to hear. But its not incremental. Its not even particularly new for them. Its an evolution of what they were doing before."Jarich said that while he thinks Cingular is the most likely major U.S. carrier to adopt the Kodiak suite, he said that its by no means certain. He said that part of the reason is determining whether people will actually use it. "The value question is always difficult," he said. "A lot is going to be educational, and thats not always easy. Some of this stuff is enterprise, some is viral consumer. It has to get out there and people have to understand that it works."A lot depends on whether the carriers like the Kodiak product enough to actually market it, Jarich said. "Its up to the operators. Its a classic problem," he said.Farrill said the software is being tested in the United States by a number of carriers now but declined to say which those carriers are.