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back to article Apple embraces 'n' extends messaging

Once upon a time there was POP3, and it was all so simple... This week's news that Apple is introducing its own proprietary messaging protocol was buried in yesterday's iCloud announcements. Maybe it's too geeky for the Twitter-besotted press corps, and too mundane for many analysts. But it's very, very significant. If RIM's …

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Curious lack of apple bashing!

I like how it starts off like a typical anti-apple rant, then ends up being quite a reasonable piece on the way open standards are losing out. Wonder if the title was written first or last?

Could have maybe done with a bit on flash too, that's a really odd one at the moment. Apple, normally into proprietary stuff, has banned it in favour of a standards based web, while google and others who are normally promoting open standards are backing flash.

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re Curious lack of apple bashing! → #

The article is reporting on a new Apple development, so it starts off discussing it. Whether you can call it an "anti-apple rant" or not is a personal judgement call.

Reread the first para. Is it really a rant or simply a statement?

As to the title - are you new here? That is written in the classic Reg style.

Why do you whitter on about Flash? What has that got to do with the article?

For what its worth, Google are actually pushing WebM over Flash, whilst still supporting it (Flash) because it is pretty popular.

Every time you think that open standards are failing have a look at this list of a few examples that probably make your online life worth living:

xDSL, IPv{4,6}, PPPoA, PPPoE, CHAP, UDP, TCP, RIP, BGP, (M)OSPF, SMTP, POP(S), IMAP(S), DNS, HTTP(S), IPSEC.

Sure you may not have even heard of most of them, but then you probably don't know how to build a road or bridge but use them every day without a thought. I do - I have a degree in Civ Eng and now own an IT company, so I think I'm qualified for naff car related IT analogies!

Cheers

Jon

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Megaphone

@Jon

Please let us all know the name of your IT company.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who now wants to avoid it like the plague - if you think those acronyms and abreviations are exotic to the crowd that infests El Reg then you are much mistaken. A much more interesting discussion would include such things as XHTML2 OOODF etc.

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Standards and privacy

"this means a significant chunk of human communication will be taken away from applications that use open standards, and drawn into a proprietary silo. It also means that the slightly creepy utopian dream, that everything anyone thinks is going to be recorded and accessible, also recedes.

Sorry, Hive-Minders – but maybe most of us think that's not such a bad thing."

Just a question, as i'm a little confused at this point - and i'm probably mis-reading it - but was the intention to conflate open standards with a lack of privacy, e.g. plain-text message formats ?

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Spot on

A deliberate attempt.

The mere suggestion that proprietary protocols and private interests would somehow be 'better' at protecting privacy and securing information than open standards is rather quaint, and betrays an glaring idealogical blind-spot

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Anonymous Coward

Spam

Maybe proprietary protocols are not any better at security or privacy, but surely they are better at controlling spam.

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Trollface

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

I've had several guys add me on BBM randomly and ask if I'm a girl. Strangely they all delete themselves when I say "not anymore".

Spam is alive and well in the propriety IM world.

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Linux

Spam?

Spam better controlled by proprietary protocols? Spam is a proprietary beast. It is likely to be aggravated by proprietary protocols. At least open protocols allow for a diverse ecosystem of tools that can be employed to address particular user requirements.

I dumped the iPhone specifically because of it's closed SMS client. It wasn't up to snuff and they weren't willing to allow 3rd party addons to help make it up to snuff. It was open data but their approach to the problem was very proprietary.

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SPAM because of open standard? What utter tripe.

Spam is there because nobody foresaw it, whether standard would be open or not.

The whole mail infrastructure was built without any safeguards against spoofing --- just like you can post an envelope with any return address imaginable, they copied that system and didn't anticipate what a large volume of pesky sellers and outright scammers would follow.

[They were right in a sense, for a while --- the first ten or more years most junk mail was sent by your contacts: "if you don't send this to 5 friends horrible things will happen" type chain letters, similar but more prevalent as the mimeographed paper equivalents before (plus: bad jokes). Writing a sensible letter costs time & a stamp while forwarding "send this to 5/10 friends" letters (or off-colour jokes) costs a trip to the copy centre + 5/10 stamps --- while the sensible email stjill costs time but forwarding costs nothing. So of course the ratio letters:forwards went hopelessly awry. ]

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Is it necessary?

Now I'm probably at the front of the queue to enter the "I'm not buying all this Mac hype" club, but I can't understand if there's a need for this when we already have SMS, FB and Twitter, especially when you factor in that just about everyone these days has enough free 3G data allowance and text messages in their top-up plan or contract to message.

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Anonymous Coward

depends who you ask

If you ask Apple, yes, it is necessary. Just like Facebook want you to ditch your hotmail or gmail and get a facebook "email" address, Apple want you to ditch your open messaging and use theirs. Why? Because then they own you and you feel even more duty bound to stay with Apple. And hey, all your friends will feel left out, so they'll go and buy iPhones too.

Open standards didn't really get left behind, it's just that the Apples, Microsofts and Googles of this world will always try to do one better to tie you to their ecosystem/platform.

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Apple's new proprietary protocol

Andrew Orlowski's suggestion that Apple's new proprietary mail protocol is an "improvement" over standards based POP3 or IMAP is ridiculous on it' face, and he has absolutely no technical or other evidence that supports such an uninformed and off-the-wall statement..

Why does the Register allow all these oddball and technically false stories to be published? There is no question that many "group" designated technology standards have failed to be productive or efficient, but Internet and Web protocols, have been excellent in promoting the explosion of communications, and the upcoming improvements like - IPv6 and HTML5 - "designed by committee" will make things even better. Has apple contributed to or created any of these new great protocols?

I doubt the article author would have a clue.

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Should have gone to Specsavers?

Where exactly does he suggest it is an improvement?

I can see where he says it will be successful - probably true given the hordes of fanbois that will use it.

I can also see where he says Apple are trying to improve how we communicate.

But nowhere do I see an assertion that it is better.

No need to read the article before commenting on it though eh.

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@W Anderson

"upcoming improvements like - IPv6 and HTML5 - "designed by committee" will make things even better. Has apple contributed to or created any of these new great protocols?"

In one word: YES.

In more detail - Apple's work on WebKit has made it one of the best rendering engines around, and has helped to drag all other browsers forward too. Since HTML depends on live implementations, this alone is proof of their contribution, but they are also listed as participating members of the W3C.

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Anonymous Coward

Replies

Tim Parker: I think he was referring to twitter there, not open standards.

andy gibson: I don't have any free SMSs with my iphone plan. A lot of my friends have iphones, so this is a big win for me. I continue using the same messaging app, but I no longer get charged if I chat with somebody on an iphone.

The other thing is that this is also on the ipad/ipod touch. They don't have SMS/3G in most cases. Plus, the way I read it, I'll be able to chat while out on my iphone, then get back home and continue the conversation on an ipad.

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Re : Replies

"Tim Parker: I think he was referring to twitter there, not open standards."

Ah - could be.. perhaps Andrew could clarify what he intended sometime.

Cheers

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Mushroom

Resistance is futile, prepare to be assimilated. Or not as the case may be...

... and yet most people will find that the people they most want to message will not have iPhones (I do not know anyone with an iPhone that I would sms/instant message).

So now, to get the best experience from a piece of Apple kit, not only does all my other gear have to be made by Apple, but I also have to make sure that everyone I want to talk to uses Apple kit.

Bzzt. Fail.

Apple is trying to make it's own walled garden. Let's hope they see the light and go for interoperability instead.

(A hellish fireball, because there's as much chance of seeing snowballs there, as there is of seeing Apple voluntarily taking the route of interopability).

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don't get charged... mmmm

The person that would charge for the data you transmit back and forth is your service provider. Apple have nothing to do with that. If you are using a mobile phone data connection you will be paying for the use via a contract or pay as you go. Contracts frequently have a certain amount of free data, in which case there are plenty of applications on plenty of devices that allow communication - for example skype - and here your friends wouldn't need to have the same phone as you.

Many other phones can also now take advantage of nearby wifi connections and cut out the mobile operator anyway, saving you money if your data plan is paid for.

Frankly I've never seen the point of the iPhone, the only 'advantage' over any other phone was a fancy new UI which most other phone manufacturers have bettered recently. Most other phones (except Android) have better battery life, better call quality, better cameras, better development environments, and less tie in to Steves personal dislike of some things.

I know that last paragraph will cause howls of derision and protest from the apple fans, but tough, I can be right even though you may howl at the moon.

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Happy

The best thing about iMessages...

.... is some message notification privacy. For the first time, you can disable the popup box of death telling everybody you have a text message. Not only that, you can tell iMessages not to display a badge to indicate you have a new message.

I appreciate that to many that turning off these notifications (and you can do it across all types of notifications) is not helpful, but for some, it is a holy grail.

In other areas, iMessages means that you can communicate in text form from your iPad (it would be nice if you can send text messages from your iPad if your SIM has texting enabled) and I bet this will be the same for iChat when Lion is released.

The silo will then be complete.

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Headmaster

XMPP?

Is Mr. Orlowski familiar with XMPP?

That would appear to be the protocol he so bemoans the lack of.

And it is in somewhat widespread use (it is powering Google Talk for instance, and the gtalk servers federate nicely with other XMPP servers... of which there are a multitude), so it's not like it's one of these wierd unused protocols that a bunch of neckbeards are bemoaning the fact that the unwashed (the other unwashed, not themselves) and ignorant do not use it.

(Headmaster: about to remonstrate with Mr Orlowski for not doing his homework)

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Anonymous Coward

Facebook as well

Facebook have an xmpp interface to their chat as well. Just a pity they messed it all up by combining chat and messaging in such a cack-handed way

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Apple too

Apparently XMPP is precisely what Apple is using for iMessage (among other real-time notification applications)

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/11/06/07/inside_apples_move_to_open_up_sms_style_messaging_to_non_mobile_clients.html

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: XMPP?

Um, no.

That's like trying to argue that Microsoft Exchange messaging is "open" because it's based on DCE/RPC.

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FB might use XMPP, but they don't federate...

... so from a user perspective, they might as well have not bothered (well, grudging exception: you get to use your favourite XMPP client to talk to your FB friends) -- effectively FB chat is as proprietary and walled in as Apple iMessaging: you need a FB account in order to be able to talk to your friends via FB...

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Linux

@Andrew Orlowski

I think you're being overly bleak. I'm happy to wait to see exactly how iMessaging is implemented, but I would be surprised if it's as closed off as all that.

My first reaction to iMessaging was "oh, they're using XMPP to unify everything, good" and then "all the complex bridging must be happening on Apple's servers". That doesn't make it closed: it's necessary to do it that way, is it not?

There are already numerous XMPP gateways into other protocols, this is just some more, and that doesn't make it closed. It would be nice to have the XMPP SMS gateway running on my server at home, but, oddly enough, the telcos don't think they should be providing that service to world+dog.

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Big Brother

Open Standards and Privacy are not opposites...

... if Apple opened this protocol to other makers (note, I did not say "open source it"), and allowed any maker of hardware to write a client for it, then fine; otherwise, put it back in the bin marked AppleLink. A better MMS would be cool. It doesn't have to be Apple's solution either. I'm open to anything that would have the broad reach MMS does, but work better. But it must allow me to talk to my friends, regardless of what they're using.

The problem is that, like FaceTime, this is just another closed, Apple-to-Apple technology; and we've been here before with the email wars of the 1990s. The reason RFC-822 (and successors) and POP3 won back then wasn't because it was the best; it was because you could send a mail to someone and be pretty sure it'd arrive saying more or less what you'd written. Interoperability is king in communications. This is why GSM took off, and CDMA didn't.

Interoperable and "Open" don't mean the same thing as "Public" or "Shared". There are open standards for point-to-point messaging that do not expose their information to scraping by the likes of Google: XMPP (Jabber) is one that springs to mind. Just because Google (a major provider of XMPP) records everything you send on GMail Chat, it does not follow that the protocol itself does this - Google own the relay server, that's why they're recording the info.

(Incidentally, the same thing happens to your SMS traffic; but this time it's a telecoms company, licenced by your government, that does the snooping - to me, that's better than having a corporation doing it; Americans generally think the opposite...)

BBM is not a good precedent, because a. there's not much of a financial barrier to owning a BlackBerry*, b. Large companies issued them to employees en-masse, c. iPhone owners already use open systems like Twitter for these features.

A communications service is only as good as the number of other people it can help you reach. Something that only 20% of "smartphone" users (smartphones being only 30% of the market anyway) can use isn't much of a draw...

* don't fall for the line about "FREE" contract pricing: over 70% of mobile customers in the EU are on Pay-as-you-Go plans, and €600 for a phone is beyond most customers' means or willingness to pay.

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Anonymous Coward

bye bye SMS

I also have no free SMS on my phone contract and the Apple iCloud messaging is touted to be available both over WiFi AND 3G. I will enjoy not paying thousands of percent overhead to the telcos for my tiny text packets. Some appleanalysts have predicted the iCloud will grow the number of apple devices in customer hands by a factor of four. what's the name of Microsoft's cloud based service again?

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Exactly

When Andrew writes: ""this means a significant chunk of human communication will be taken away from applications that use open standards, and drawn into a proprietary silo."

I think what will actually happen is that a significant chunk of human communication will be taken away from the not-so-open SMS.

I just hope that Apple will get around to integrating it nicely so that if the respondent is on iOS it goes via a free iMessage and if not, it goes as SMS. I also hope that there will be a iChat plugin in Lion that will allow interoperability with Macs and iMessages.

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Big Brother

No. You'll enjoy paying your thousands of percent overhead to Apple instead.

... and with the benefit of not being able to talk with anyone with non-apple gear, so the walled garden will become an echo chamber of Apple fans all congratulating each on "sticking it to the Man", all at the same time as being shafted by the other Man.

And big brother WILL be watching you. And monetizing (real word?) you...

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thousands of percent?

How do you work that out, personally 25p to make use of any mast in any country connected to a cable system, servers, software and billing system so I can send a message to anyone anywhere at any time with a pretty (damned near 100%) certainty it will get there, and usually within seconds, is pretty damned good value.

As for wifi and 3g messaging systems there are plenty of those around for phones other that apple phones (for example skype is available on s60 and others). These other systems have the massive advantage of being usable from PC and a variety of other phones, so your friends don't need to be connected to an iphone they can have a sensible device!

BTW , there is another issue with 'the cloud' - do you trust an american company - that is by law required to give your data to the law enforcement people in america - to keep it secret - ooh, I think not possible :)

Does the icloud offer the ability to create your own personal cloud without apple being in control of it?

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Happy

It's too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?

While Twitter and Facebook may seem invincible today - as does Apple - I wonder how long before they join the ranks of MySpace and GeoCities?

Realistically, if we were starting out from scratch, then we'd never have designed the current POP, SMTP, IMAP methods the way they are today ... but we're stuck with them for the moment. I don't see the harm in Apple, RIM etc trying out new systems and protocols - if they are worthy then they will be adopted and extended ... much as POP and SMTP have been. These protocols and designed were - in the beginning - as much products of the ivory towers as anything that seems to be proposed at present.

A Blade Runner quote from Gaff because, well the movie and the positions that the characters find themselves in just seems to be more prescient as the years pass.

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@version 1.0 : Ivory towers

"much as POP and SMTP have been. These protocols and designed were - in the beginning - as much products of the ivory towers as anything that seems to be proposed at present."

Eh ? I really must be having a slow today.. this is at least the fourth or fifth thing i've had big problems parsing tonight. Just to clarify, which ivory towers do you think POP and SMTP were designed in ?... I'm no expert but weren't RFC 772 and 918 (IIRC) quite open - for an ivory tower.. or were you meaning something they were based on - in which case, what ?

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Happy

The ivory towers of Academia

Fair comment - basically they were spec'd with the idea of reasonably easy implementation among a small number of computer literate academics (both commercial and educational) with little thought for security or trustiness. Sure - they were open specs and many people commented and suggested improvements most of which were implemented at the time ... 30 years ago. Having seen what spammers and hackers have done with these protocols, I don't think that there's any disagreement that if we'd know then what we know now - we'd have done things differently.

And my point is that not all change is a bad thing - and that even walled gardens can be opened ...

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WTF?

so, let me get this strait...

because you couldn't be bothered to comment on the REQUEST FOR COMMENT, it was built in "The ivory towers of Academia?" What should they have done, beat a path to your door to get you to personally engrave your signature in a slab of the purest unobtainium? Yes there may have been things we could have addressed differently, if we could do over, but these specs have been damn successful. They have been reviewed by many, and are amended when appropriate. They have withstood many attempts to replace them with more secure by design proprietary protocols.

Just because a small subset of the population was all the cared, does not make it closed.

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and another one

Lotus notes is a whole suburb of walled gardens, IM, email, intranet, funky creaky ancient databases.

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WTF?

Untitled 1

In the email world there's POP, IMAP, and SMTP and the rest can be bludgeoned into some kind of interoperability with those one way or another and it's also in vendors of proprietary solutions' interests that that happens.

In the IM world the battle to protect protocols has basically been given up by their owners, there's interoperability agreements and XMPP.

In the mobile world up to featurephone level there's SMS, MMS, and video calling and everything uses them. There are sync programs which back up this data onto the computer and there are MMS to email gateways and back again.

Then there's Apple which have made Facetime and iMessage to replace their previous iChat (itself AIM), video calling and MMS. The reason why they've done this is unclear apart from perhaps not invented here syndrome.

There are always proprietary and always open solutions. Some proprietary solutions sink without trace, other commercially successful ones carry on and if they do carry on then either their proprietors provide some kind of interoperability or other people do (e.g. Samba). And in no case does the choice of protocol affect the ability of a court or government to demand that the data on the server be handed over.

The fact that Apple have invented Facetime and iMessage doesn't protect people's privacy any more than video calling or MMS, it's just a little more Jobsian lock-in into Apple's ecosystem to persuade you not to leave.

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take the email example further

'in no case does the choice of protocol affect the ability of a court or government to demand that the data on the server be handed over.'

Sure it does. If my protocol is routed over servers in a high-privacy country that makes a difference (Finland springs to mind). If my system keeps intra-corporate messages within the corporate network it makes a difference If my system doesn't hold old messages once receipt is confirmed then that makes a difference. If my system supports end to end encryption then that makes a difference, especially if corporate clients hold their own keys.

Finally there is a great difference in terms of response to subpoena. Google is relatively good here, generally forcing governments to jump through every hoop before handing over user data - Carriers more vulnerable to political pressure, so they tend to cave immediately.

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WhatsApp and Ping

Not sure why we need iMessages which limits you to contacting other iOS users when we already have apps such as WhatsApp and Ping that work across various mobile operating systems.

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watch the keynote

They explicity say that the starting motivation for iMessage was to get an SMS like experience onto non-cellular devices such as iPod touch and iPad. Whatsapp and Ping don't support them do they?

Of course there's no reason that you can't have all three if you want - though I expect that iMessage will integrate more seamlessly with the SMS system, at least eventually.

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sms like experience

Oh come now, things like skype do that already, only better. If they want sms on those devices then use sms protocols - I was doing that from my pc 15 years ago while testing some phone technology

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@cloudgazer

I've already watched the keynote. Ping is supported on the iPad, Whatsapp isn't at the moment, but there's no reason why that can't change.

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Flame

Antitrust shenanigans

What is interesting is all this walled garden movement, evangelised by Apple today will inevitably lead to some sort of antitrust suit.

In regard to iMessage in particular, SMS needs to die or become free. The one good thing about SMS is it's interoperable amongst any mobile device. It's problem is that paying 8-20p for a 160 character message in today's connected world is ludicrous. It still has a life if it became universally free. But that's also leads to a problem with these anachronistic dinosaurs aka the carrier networks believing they are anything more than a big fat dumb data pipe.

iMessage is also a direct copy of BBM. Problem is that the iPhone doesn't have any credibility as a secure device in front of the BlackBerry, and aside from being free, that's also a major factor in people's use of BBM. Furthermore it's the kids who are using BBM more than anyone else - a 16 year old son of a friend of mine actually was given a choice of what phone to get, including an iPhone and he chose a BlackBerry purely due to BBM.

However, as the article discusses, this is about the walled garden versus the open standard. This is irrelevant. Any standard - open or otherwise - isn't worth the paper it's written on if it's not adopted, and in the case of an open standard the onus is even greater as it needs widescale adoption to tilt the point of critical mass. Skype is as much of a 'standard' VoIP protocol as SIP is, though one's closed and one open.

It's more about antitrust and specifically, vendor lock in. Apple will eventually get done for antitrust - this a given and a matter of time - but it does require those damned regulators with their snouts in the corporate trough to wake up! At the moment, there's only a very tiny amount of self-regulation where vendor lock-ins upset a bigger player - see the Adobe v Apple fight over Flash v HTML5 - even though it's Google who stands to gain the most from HTML5 being widely adopted.

Vendor lock in is a rife problem in the tech/telecoms industry and somewhat a form of modus operandi of giant tech / telco companies. But it just shows how and why there needs to be regulation in the form of a new set of dentures for the various Competition Commissions around the world.

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FAIL

Explain which anti-trust law Apple is violating and why.

Sorry, being a proprietary operation is not in and of itself in any way a violation of antitrust legislations.

Dweeb

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Hmm

'The one good thing about SMS is it's interoperable amongst any mobile device. ' - Wrong in so many ways. For starters it's not even close to interoperable with non celluar mobile devices - ie WiFI based tablets, music players etc. Second it isn't even reliably interoperable between all cellular carriers, especially in the US. GSM networks mostly play nice with each other, but the CDMA operators historically haven't.

'a 16 year old son of a friend of mine actually was given a choice of what phone to get, including an iPhone and he chose a BlackBerry purely due to BBM.' - You're actually arguing against yourself here. The 16 year old market doesn't care about security, and they do care about cool. BBM is the only selling point RIM have for them, and iMessage may very well negate that. Remember it's not just expensive iPhones, it's also relatively cheap iPod Touches.

'Apple will eventually get done for antitrust - this a given and a matter of time' - possibly, but it won't be for iMessage. There is no issue with private IM networks, they've existed for years. There's also no issue with 'intra-system' messages being priced differently from 'inter-system' - in fact this has been a staple of mobile carriers in many jurisdictions. So long as Apple support SMS there's no issue from the point of view of telecom regulators. Apple might conceivably end up in anti-trust soup over their control of the app-store, but only if iPhones totally dominate over Android. If that happens Apple has won so big that they really won't care.

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SMS interop

I have used sms to send messages from pc to phone in the past. these things are certainly possible. I have also used sms to send messages from phone to a mainframe - a bit clunky and required some work at the mainframe end (it was a project a very long time ago), but it can be done, so interop with any device is possible (even if not always easy). As a method of transporting more than tiny bits of data sms is flawed, but then it really was designed for point to point small data transfer so using it for other things is pushing your luck

certainly though there is no need for it to die. eventually I suspect it will get replaced by the likes of skype and similar, just because they offer far more. it will be a matter of how many people adopt what. The thing I can't see happening is the apple bandwagon gaining enough people to allow them to control every communication from person to person over the planet, not enough people want the eyecandy over proper functionality

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Facepalm

IMAP Doesn't Cut It

I'm going to defend Apple on this one.

First of all, we ALREADY have a situation in which large amounts of email no longer travel over POP or IMAP between server and client. It's called GMail. And the protocol involved is whatever the Googlers hacked up to run between the JavaScript GMail front-end and the Google GMail back-end. Just because no one ever noticed this as a proprietary protocol doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

GMail's proprietary protocol was created for good reason --- because POP and IMAP don't do what's needed to make the GMail client work well. If Apple wishes to create a compelling email client that can compete with GMail, then they need to do the same. RIM did the same thing as well --- ever notice how much better email works on a Blackberry than on an IMAP-compliant Android phone? Again, it goes over Blackberry's proprietary protocol.

I don't blame Apple for doing this. I DO blame the standards people --- who have failed to come up with any better protocols, even 5+ years after GMail and Blackberry have shown us how short the existing ones really fall.

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Would you care to explain what features of GMail cannot be implemented in pure IMAP?

IMAP IDLE == instant notification of email arriving (AKA push, although not implemented as what would traditionally be considered push). Don't think GMail implements this.

IMAP keywords == gmail labels

IMAP folders == ... actually gmail does not really implement folders (although due to some level of lameness they implement labels as IMAP folders...)

IMAP search == gmail search on the server (i.e. IMAP clients don't need to have the full mail database in order to be able to request a search of the full database)

IMAP CONVERT == gmail preview (get the server to render attachments to a form that is nice to available bandwidth and the client device)

The Lemonade profile (from which some of the above come) in particular provides a very rich set of operations for working with resource constraints (include bandwidth)

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Coat

Silos

You have to take a good look at what modern silos actually are to realize the recent growth is a perfectly natural extension of free and open standards.

The silo nature is only in the proprietary display end of things. The layer of obfuscation to hide from the masses that there is actually nothing new and no cost incurred worthy of the M$ being charged.

In the background the databases, storage formats, layout architectures and communication channels are almost all open standards. When you merger your mega-silo with smaller startups, you want to be able to transfer their data into your silo quickly and easily after all. When both are using the same open standards the costs are minimal and return on investments are as high as marketing can charge for the "upgrade" to newer and flashier frontend bling.

When there is some ways developed to do things more efficiently the big silos are all pushing to get their way standardized. Forcing their competition to support that method and soften themselves up for the taking.

It is balancing on a two-edged sword. The Next Big Thing is just as likely to come out of some random idealist geek than out of a silo business.

... mines the one with the token-key data wallet in the pocket.

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Headmaster

Technically ...

If 'mother' is half a word then "embraces 'n' extends" is .67 words. Couldn't sleep, had to clear that up.

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Why are you all banging on about email?

Apple's iMessage is a closed IM system, it has nothing to do with email.

It'll be moderately successful, at punishing the network operators a bit for their ludicrous SMS charges.

The telcos were sold a dream by a bunch of Scandinavian network equipment manufacturers called RCS, which was supposed to make your phone do everything it does already, but over an IMS network. It's 3 years late and Apple, Google and RIM won't hang around for it.

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