IBM, OpenWave announce alliance

IBM Corp. and OpenWave Systems Inc. struck a deal to sell wireless hardware and software for wireless service providers, the companies announced Monday.

The 10-year alliance between the Redwood City, California, mobile software company and IBM links OpenWave's mobile browser software with IBM's e-business platform, the companies said. The two companies will pool some of their resources to pretest and integrate OpenWave software on IBM equipment for carriers.

"What (service providers) have had to do is integrate things from as many as 50 different vendors," said Nigel Beck, IBM's marketing director for pervasive computing. "They're at the end of their tether. They don't have a lot of money to pile into experimental projects ... We're taking the risk out. This is just about the easiest way for a carrier to say they're going to put in some wireless service apps."

While calling it a good partnership, one analyst said the real test of the alliance will be in the markets.

"Anyone can announce a partnership these days," said David Berndt, director of wireless mobile technologies for Yankee Group. "It would be good to see six months from now how many of these platforms have been sold, and compare that to the previous six months."

The IBM and OpenWave alliance has been brewing for a while. The Armonk, New York, business technology company began working last year with OpenWave on an open joint reference architecture for wireless systems. The reference architecture permits different types of equipment, software and protocols to function together.

IBM's WebSphere Portal middleware is now available integrated with OpenWave's Mobile Access Gateway. WebSphere Portal presents data in a personalized form, while the Mobile Access Gateway helps present information in a suitable form for mobile devices like cell phones.

Combined products will be offered globally. Financial details went undisclosed. The companies will commit 100 employees each to alliance initiatives.

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