Xura revives the universal message ideal with Message Everywhere

Messaging service designed to offer operators a way to offer cross-device messaging services, with hooks to "OTT" apps and other third party developers.

XURA, the business formed out of the acquisition of Acision by Comverse, has launched a network-based messaging service that aims to offer a simple way for users to access messages and voicemails from any of their devices.

Called Message Everywhere, the service is maybe best understood as a mix of new IP-based messaging apps and a unified messaging service.

The idea is that messages can be sent between any device, a PC or laptop, tablet, smartphone or feature phone, via the mobile network – using the mobile number or identity of the sender and receiver.

In simple terms, the service works by “copying” messages at the SMSC or MMSC into a server in the cloud. This then acts as a central “repository” of messages that can be accessed either by the native messaging client on a device, or via a url in a web browser running on a PC or tablet. Voicemails can be also accessed through the same interface. Group messaging is not currently supported but will be available before the end of 2015, according to Xura.

Although this sort of cloud-hosted, network-based messaging platform may sound to some like an idea whose time had come and gone five years ago, Xura’s Nicolas Appert (EVP, Monetization), is not so sure – he thinks that true cross-device interoperability will give operators the chance to build something that is a bit like a network-based iMessage service – but one that works across different OS and device types.

It is also different from apps that ask users to download an app and then “bounce” messages from the phone to the cloud, from where they can be accessed by other devices. Message Everywhere works even if the phone is turned off, and also across all devices, Appert said. For example, somebody who is roaming might just use their PC to send and receive messages within the browser.

Nor is necessarily about competing with the web-based IP messaging services. Xura said that one AsiaPacific operator is already working on integration of Messaging Everywhere with Viber, to enable Viber users to message in and out of the service with users who are not on Viber.

Not only that but Appert said that the idea is to offer other app developers – for instance those working in an area like ConnectedTV – an SDK through which they can access the “message repository” to integrate in their own services.

Appert’s view is that Messaging Everywhere can help operators deploy a network-based enhanced messaging solution that can sit alongside RCS-based rollouts.

He told TMN, “Operators that are rolling out RCS to their customers, the main concern they have is related to the installed base and people having an RCS-compatible phone. So Messaging Everywhere is a way for them to speed up adoption and educate users in messaging solutions without having to upgrade or get an RCS device. So it is very complementary to RCS deployment strategies.”

The idea of enhanced messaging is, of course, far from new. Right from unilateral gateways to Internet IM services, to OMA IMPS (Instant Messaging and Presence Service), forward to RCS, operators have long looked at a way to both mirror the functionality of, and/or connect to, internet-based messaging communities and platforms. There have also been many web-based or cloud-based unified messaging plays. Message Everywhere, by leveraging operators’ deployed messaging infrastructure, keeps messages “on-network” for the operator while at the same time offering users some of the characteristics of other cloud-based messaging services.