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Debate: XMPP Will Bring Universal IM

This is the first in an occasional series where Ferris Research analysts and friends state opinions that are opposed by other Ferris staff. In this post, Steve Kille opines that XMPP will be the unifying force leading to widespread interoperability among instant messaging systems. There’s also an opposing viewpoint from Richi Jennings.

As instant messaging (IM) becomes more widely used, there is increasing benefit to users having a single IM address. In order to provide such a service, there needs to be an open standard allowing for distributed provision. It is becoming increasingly clear that XMPP (Jabber) is the open standard that can enable this.

Users now have the choice to join a distributed XMPP network, which currently has a respectable membership size — less than but comparable to the closed services.

Trends suggest that the XMPP (Jabber) community will have strong natural growth. Sametime users can now join this community; it’s rumored that AIM users will also be able to join. XMPP provides an open technology for all of these user bases to converge.

Many years back AOL was a standalone email service, and people published AOL addresses among their list of multiple email addresses. Standalone email is now hard to imagine.

Increasing numbers of consumers find they need to run more than one IM client to communicate with friends and associates. The time is approaching when the demand for proprietary services to interoperate will outweigh the services’ business-model roadblocks. XMPP should be the technology that will enable this.

[See also this opposing viewpoint]

Steve Kille

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