Mobile standard forums join forces

The Wap Forum is dead, long live the Open Mobile Alliance...

The Wap Forum is dead, long live the Open Mobile Alliance...

After Wap's failure to become the next big thing, the mobile industry has decided that another forum is needed to work on creating open standards. The Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) is an amalgamation of the Open Mobile Architecture Initiative, the SyncML Initiative, the Location Interoperability Forum, the MMS Interoperability Group and the Wireless Village Initiative, as well as the previous leader in the field, the Wap Forum. Currently, each operator and manufacturer use differing technologies to connect their devices to the internet, a problem that the OMA is keen to eradicate. Its 200 members include the usual suspects - Motorola and Nokia among others - but also Microsoft, which has won a seat on the board and is providing sponsorship. Mike Wehrs, director of standards and technology for Microsoft's mobility group, told silicon.com that Microsoft agreed to join the OMA because it is unlike other mobile interoperability forums. He said: "This one goes against the tradition of normal mobile club-like mentality. It doesn't require you to use a particular vendor's handset or technology and we were also able to take a fully active board level position, a real leading role, which wasn't open to us with other groups." He added: "We're going to put a lot of skin into the game on this one so people can't say that Microsoft is on the sideline again." One significant mobile business that has so far refused to join the new gang is Palm. A spokeswoman for the company said: "Palm will want to see what direction this new group is taking before it jumps on board. It needs to investigate what its involvement in the party would be." However, Wehrs pointed to Palm's recent financial results as a possible reason for its recalcitrance to join the group: "Palm not joining may have something to do with the current market condition of the company and the fact that its market share has significantly changed as it hasn't been making its sales projections."