Openwave, Verisign team on mobile messaging

Openwave Systems, a software maker specialized in mobile services, and Web hosting company Verisign have bundled their products to deliver an instant messaging platform to mobile phone operators, the companies announced Tuesday.

Verisign, of Mountain View, California, will host Openwave's mobile instant messaging product and function as an outsourcing partner for mobile operators, the companies said in a statement issued at the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) event in Orlando.

Openwave and Verisign will also work together to facilitate messaging between different U.S. operator networks, using Verisign's intercarrier messaging service, and sell Openwave's Mobile Messaging Gateway to operators, said Danny Winokur, director of strategic alliances for Redwood City, California-based Openwave.

The Openwave mobile instant messaging product turns a cell phone into an instant-messaging client. Using either SMS (Short Message Service), which offers limited functionality, or WAP (Wireless Application Protocol), offering near-PC instant messaging functionality, Openwave said.

The hosted service for operators should be available by mid-July and will likely be charged on a per month, per subscriber basis, according to Winokur, who added that operators can also opt to install the Openwave software on their own network.

"We expect that top tier operators will ultimately want to have it (mobile instant messaging software) sit on their own network. However, right now there are operators with a time to market urgency and operating in a capital constrained environment. Outsourcing is attractive as a bridge to get them to where it makes sense to offer it (mobile instant messaging) on their own," said Winokur.

Text messaging has become one of the main revenue generators for mobile phone operators, especially in Europe and Asia. Profit margins on text-message transmissions are high and users can't seem to get enough of text messaging. The explosive growth of SMS seen in Europe has been limited in North America largely due to technology barriers.

New forms of messaging, which includes mobile instant messaging, but also multimedia messaging, are touted as ways for operators to generate even more revenue out of messaging services. Other companies offering messaging platforms include CMG Wireless Data Solutions BV, Logica PLC and Nokia Corp.

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