[the anti-AOLers strike back] IM Unified launches

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From: Adam Rifkin -4K (adam@XeNT.ics.uci.edu)
Date: Wed Jul 26 2000 - 15:55:03 PDT

Geez. This one is not to be confused with


which is mostly a political body. This one is


which seems to be more interested in the technology. Recall that
Microsoft owns 5% of CMGi, and CMGi owns 3% of Yahoo plus a majority of
Tribal Voice and iCast, and Tribal Voice provides IM to AT&T, and AT&T
is a significant shareholder in Excite @Home.

Sure, why not have a coalition. Meanwhile, AOL is laughing and laughing
and deciding which media giant it will swallow next after the merger
with Time Warner goes through. CBS or Disney, anyone? :)

> Q. Why are you forming the coalition at this time?
> Actually, we have been discussing the need for interoperability for
> some time. Many of the founding companies have been frustrated by the
> inability to achieve exchange of IM with other leading IM providers,
> such as AOL. In addition, not all of our founding members can
> currently provide exchange of IM with each other.
> Our customers are unhappy with the lack of interoperability, and we
> believe the market is demanding a change. We intend to take immediate
> first steps to correct this situation by ensuring that our members
> can exchange IM freely with each other.
> Ultimately, the development of open standards is the only real
> solution to this problem, and that work is well underway at the IETF.
> To complement that work and to demonstrate that safe and secure
> interoperability is indeed a viable objective that greatly benefits
> our users, we are intent on enabling seamless communication across
> the IMUnified membership.
> Q: What is your time frame to produce this interoperability solution?
> IMUnified plans to provide a basic framework for detailing the
> mechanics of IM exchange among our members systems by the end of
> August, with final implementation across member communities expected
> by the end of the year. Further efforts will be focused on deepening
> our degree of functional interoperability among member communities,
> consistent with adoption of emerging standards developments resulting
> from the IETF.
> Q: Why is IMUnified seeking an open standard?
> You can pick up any telephone and call anybody in the world, no
> matter who your phone service provider is. And you can e-mail anyone,
> no matter which e-mail application you use. But you can't send or
> receive instant messages to anybody, anywhere, because instant
> messaging is not yet fully interoperable. Through the efforts of
> IMUnified, our members will be able to offer their users the
> functional interoperability they have demanded, in the shortest
> amount of time possible.
> The lack of interoperability drastically limits how people
> communicate with one another through instant messaging applications;
> only those who are on the same network are able to use IM effectively
> to reach each other. This creates "islands" of users within the
> Internet. In addition, there's very little chance anyone will want to
> use a new and innovative instant messaging product that can't talk to
> others already on the market. The danger of this island phenomenon is
> an even greater problem when one recognizes that the emerging body of
> wireless IM users is projected to equal or eclipse the number of
> PC-based users in upcoming years. This lack of interoperability
> creates a closed marketplace where users cannot easily move from
> provider to provider, thus limiting competition in this important market.
> Q: How will interoperable instant messaging benefit consumers?
> The major benefit will be the ease and speed with which Internet
> users can communicate with each other via instant messaging. You may
> not use IM now, but the chances are pretty good that you will
> sometime in the future. In a world of increasing worker mobility,
> dispersed organizations, and always-connected individuals, immediate
> access and global presence detection can significantly enhance the
> way we communicate, collaborate, and work on a daily basis. These
> future benefits are not achievable in a world where one vendor's
> products can't speak to another. Consumers recognized the need for
> interoperability with the telephone, with e-mail and even with the
> VCR. The sooner we achieve it, the sooner we can develop the next
> step in personal communications.
> IM is already a great consumer communication tool, but we also
> envision applications using IM to improve service delivery, or ensure
> instantaneous business-to-business communications.
> Q. What is your relationship to IETF?
> Although IMUnified doesn't have a formal relationship with any other
> group, many of our founding member companies are already actively
> involved in various IETF activities, and intend to continue
> contributing to the process. IMUnified additionally intends to be
> among the first to support protocols developed by the IETF in its
> efforts to create standards for IM interoperability.
> Q. What will you do after you announce the "operational
> Interoperability" for your members in late August?
> IMUnified members plan to implement publicly available, functional
> interoperability by the end of the year. IMUnified will subsequently
> focus its efforts on the implementation of deeper interoperability,
> rapidly incorporating the emerging specifications of the IETF
> standards process. At the same time, we intend to be among the first
> to support protocols developed by the IETF in its efforts to create
> standards for IM interoperability.
> Throughout our entire implementation process we will remain focused
> and committed to ensuring a high standard for protecting users'
> privacy and security in the implementation of interoperable IM.
> Q. Are you competing with the IETF in any way?
> No. Absolutely not.
> Q. Why didn't you submit an application to the IETF last month?
> IETF is a standards organization, with many IMUnified founding
> members also involved in the IETF process. On the other hand, the
> goal of IMUnified is to provide immediate interoperability solutions,
> and to be among the first to support emerging protocols developed by
> the IETF in its efforts to create standards for IM interoperability.
> Q. What about AOL's submission? Do you support it?
> IMUnified itself isn't taking a position on any of the IETF
> submissions. However, some of the companies involved in founding
> IMUnified have prepared a response to the issues raised in the AOL
> submissions to the IETF and FCC.
> We will await the outcome of the Working Group and be among the first
> to support protocols developed by the IETF in its efforts to create
> standards for IM interoperability.
> Q. Who can join the IMUnified?
> IMUnified welcomes other companies committed to the goal of full IM
> interoperability based on open standards.
> Q. What is the organizational structure of IMUnified?
> IMUnified's founding members are in the process of creating
> structural and operational plans. To this point, all IMUnified
> members share in the decision making process.
> Q: What do you mean by deeply interoperable?
> The ultimate solution will enable users of different IM services to
> communicate seamlessly with each other, without having to subscribe
> to each IM service - providing IM users with the same type of
> communications flexibility currently afforded consumers of email and
> the telephone. Additional functionalities will likely include:
> enhanced presence detection, single sign-on, file transfer, voice
> capability, integrated buddy lists, and wireless-specific operations.
> Washington -- July 25, 2000 -- Leading technology and instant messaging
> (IM) companies today announced the launch of a new coalition: IMUnified.
> The goal of this coalition is to rapidly enable users of all members'
> instant messaging services to communicate in a seamless, convenient,
> private and secure manner. The founding members of IMUnified are AT&T
> Corp., Excite@Home, iCAST Corp., the MSN. network of Internet services,
> Odigo, Phone.com, Prodigy, Tribal Voice and Yahoo! Inc.
> IMUnified intends to make publicly available by the end of August a
> set of specifications that will enable functional interoperability
> among its members' instant messaging services. Coalition members plan
> to implement this functional interoperability during the fall.
> IMUnified intends to be among the first to support protocols
> developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in its
> efforts to create standards for IM interoperability.
> "Internet users want to exchange instant messages with each other,
> regardless of which service they use," said Brian Park, senior
> producer at Yahoo! "We welcome the participation of other interested
> IM companies who share the vision of interoperability based on open
> standards and encourage them to join our efforts."
> "An open standard for instant messaging will be a big win for the
> users of all of our services," said Ross Bagully, CEO of Tribal
> Voice. "We are committed to supporting the creation of an
> open-standards solution based on the work going on at the IETF.
> Today's announcement brings us one step closer to making open
> communication between all instant messaging services a reality."
> Initially, IMUnified will build upon technologies already used by
> many coalition members to enable their Internet users to communicate
> freely with each other. IMUnified will subsequently focus its efforts
> on the implementation of deeper interoperability, rapidly
> incorporating the emerging specifications of the IETF standards
> process. The ultimate vision of IMUnified is to enable all users of
> instant messaging services to communicate freely with each other in
> the same simple and seamless manner they have come to expect from
> phone and e-mail-based communication. In addition, the coalition is
> fully committed to protecting users' privacy and security in the
> implementation of interoperable IM.
> "One of the things that makes this coalition so exciting is the
> opportunity to work together and learn from each other so that we can
> create a system that is even more private and more secure than what
> is available today," said Yusuf Mehdi, vice president of MSN at
> Microsoft Corp.
> Not only does interoperability affect the present state of IM, but it
> also can significantly impact future innovation. The emergence of
> wireless IM draws attention to the lack of IM interoperability, as
> wireless users accustomed to placing calls to anyone will logically
> demand the same degree of flexibility with respect to instant
> messaging.
> "Web-enabled wireless phones will put 'always-on' IM in the pockets
> of hundreds of millions of new users around the world," said Marc
> Linden, group vice president of Carrier Applications at Phone.com.
> "We want to give each and every one of these new users the broadest
> amount of choice and flexibility when they seek to reach out and
> communicate with others."
> About IMUnified
> IMUnified, a recently formed coalition of leading technology and
> instant messaging companies, has been created to provide functional
> interoperability enabling its members' Internet users to communicate
> freely with each other. IMUnified will strive to implement open
> standards-based interoperability for instant messaging as these
> protocols emerge from the IETF standardization process. The founding
> members of IMUnified are AT&T, Excite@home, iCAST, MSN, Odigo,
> Phone.com, Prodigy, Tribal Voice and Yahoo! More information on
> IMUnified and its activities can be found at
> http://www.IMUnified.org/.


New York-based Scholastic Inc., has ordered another 3 million copies [of the new Harry Potter book], after having distributed all of its 3.8 million initial print run. To put the demand into perspective, small bookstores say hardcover children's books rarely see double-digit sales in a single month. "We have never sold this many books in such a short period of time before," said Becky Whidden, manager of The Children's Book Shop in Brookline, Mass. "We've sold maybe 50 or 70 books in a week -- like Philip Pullman's 'The Golden Compass' and 'The Subtle Knife' young adult novels -- but nothing like this. With most books, we sell only five a week in hardcover." Amazon.com has sold more than 457,000 copies of "Goblet of Fire" as of July 25, spokesman Bill Curry said Wednesday. Of those, 350,000 were ordered prior to the official release -- more than six times the Web site's previous prepublication record, set by John Grisham's "The Brethren" in March. New York-based Barnes & Noble Inc. sold 502,000 copies by the close of business July 9, making it the biggest weekend in the bookstore chain's history. About 360,000 were pre-ordered, and 100,000 came through the bookstore chain's Web site. The company declined to release updated sales figures. Booksellers say the only other books of this magnitude in the children's category are the Potter predecessors, the first of which was published in 1995. The series has so far sold 35 million copies worldwide, and hold the top four slots on the newly launched New York Times Children's Hardcover Best Sellers list. -- http://www.salon.com/business/wire/2000/07/26/potter/index.html

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