MessageVine gives wireless collaboration a boost
DESKTOP INSTANT messaging is a great collaborative tool, especially for widely distributed organizations. IM (instant messaging) fills a critical gap somewhere between the telephone and e-mail in terms of disruption, urgency, and response time. Currently, most IM tools are purely desktop-based. Imagine the time saved if your entire mobile workforce was able to access IM from their WAP(Wireless Application Protocol)-enabled devices.
With MessageVine's IM solution, users are able to access IM via various wireless platforms as well as across PC desktops. When users are away from the office and carrying a wireless phone with text messaging functionality, they can specify that messages already sent to their MessageVine account also be forwarded to their phones. Of course a user's ability to respond to these messages is limited by the ability of the phone to send (not just receive) text messages.
With MessageVine, WAP-enabled devices can also connect to a MessageVine server and enjoy the functionality of the MessageVine chat client, thereby providing wireless IM. Currently, the MessageVine WAP client doesn't allow file transfers, but it is only a matter of time before that happens. Overall, we found the service to be Good in our test ratings.
Not the best, not the worst
On the competitive front, MessageVine IM doesn't fair as well as Yahoo Messenger, but clearly rises above ICQ. Generally, even the desktop MessageVine client lacks a lot of the bells and whistles found in products such as Yahoo IM, but we found it much more intuitive and less intruusive than ICQ.
In addition to including basic chat functionality, Yahoo Messenger provides add-ons such as file transfers, group chat, and even voice conferences. Whereas some of these features are more gimmicky than others, they are generally valuable for enhancing collaboration among increasingly distributed workers.
The IM downside for the enterprise is demonstrated by products such as ICQ, the psychedelic spam-o-matic pipeline that meets many of the criteria for classification as a virus. Tools like this are more annoyance than application and bring elements onto corporate networks that most IT departments feel are best left outside the firewall.
Simple, wireless access
MessageVine keeps IM simple, as it should be, with an easily understood interface and a minimum of marketing intrusion. In some ways it is too simple, lacking some of the features that make other IM products like Yahoo Messenger's valuable business tools. Support for wireless platforms is a nice differentiator for MessageVine, but a lack of Macintosh and Unix support on the desktop side weakens MessageVine's cross platform claims. A Java implementation is under development to address this shortcoming.
MessageVine's focus is on spreading IM functionality across diverse hardware platforms. MessageVine does this by providing an IM solution to ISPs, portals, and wireless providers that allows them to, in turn, provide IM functionality to their customers. In other words, ISPs, portals and wireless providers buy MessageVine's IM solution along with the right to brand the product as their own.
Because we didn't have our own wireless empire upon which to test products such as MessageVine, we set up the client and tried out its ability to send a message to our AT&T wireless phone. As with most IM clients, setup was minimal, and it was easy to configure SMS (Short Message Service) forwarding to send offline messages to our phone.
The bottom line is that there's still a whole lot of shakin' going on in the wireless world. Products like MessageVine, implemented by your ISP, portal, or wireless provider, can provide a simple way to rapidly deploy a wireless messaging solution across multiple platforms, including PC desktops.
For ISPs, portals, or wireless providers, MessageVine provides a relatively simple way to offer a platform independent messaging solution that can be offered to customers and called your own. In either case, MessageVine and other IM solutions are worth a good look for any enterprise.