San Francisco - AT&T spokesman Ed Larsen announced today that
the company will soon release Telephone Instant Messaging or TIM. "The
communications industry has advanced in dramatic ways and it's high
time for AT&T to catch up."
"In the past ten years, e-mail has revolutionized the Internet.
However, this technology was still considered by some to be far too
slow for the fast paced world we live in. This led to the development
of instant messaging programs like AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ.
With instant messaging, one individual can send a message to another
individual in real time or 'instantly'," Larsen continued.
AT&T does not want to be left behind. "We already have
the infrastructure in place," Larsen said. "Our TIM application
will work similarly to the existing IM applications out there, but
with several improvements." In Larsen's demonstration, he explained
that each user is given a unique phone id or "number".
This is fairly standard in the IM world. This number can then be
keyed into a telephone to initiate contact with another user. What's
revolutionary about AT&T's TIM application, according to Larsen,
is that the users will not be limited to communicating by typing.
The user's voice is "streamed" over the telephone line
Larsen believes this technology will initially appeal mostly to
businesses, but that eventually individuals will want to use it to
keep in touch with family and friends.
"In a workplace, you might send someone an e-mail," Larsen
explained, "but that could take some time. There is a large
set of computer protocols which this type of communication must jump
through like hoops. A large complaint among office workers is that
some people don't even read their e-mail, so some offices use IM.
There is a greater sense of immediacy. But, with the existing IM
applications, you are still limited to the speed at which you can
type. Studies indicate that over sixty-two percent of office employees
who regularly use a computer cannot type. With AT&T TIM, these
concerns are a thing of the past."
When asked about competing with the "attachment" feature
of most modern e-mail applications, Larsen said that AT&T is
currently researching a mechanism which would send documents over
the telephone line, but refused to go into any details due to pending
Some members of the business world are not so thrilled however. "I
don't ignore my e-mail," said Larry Zau, a low level manager
at a medium sized software company. "Instead I delegate e-mail
response generation to a later date. Delegation is the key to good
management skills. With this new 'voice-over-phone-line' technology,
it will be extremely difficult to delegate response generation to
a later date. I can see it now. Any attempts at delegation would
result in a brisk 'Hello?' or 'Are you still there?' making my job
a lot tougher." He then digressed into an incoherent metaphor
involving the stateless nature of the HTTP protocol.
Larsen is also faced with other challenges in bringing IM off of
the desktop. Studies indicate that computer solitaire is the most
widely used application in the business world. To combat this feature,
AT&T's TIM platform will offer a "deck of playing cards" with
each subscription to their service. With this "deck", according
to Larsen, an individual can actually play solitaire in real time
in real 3D. "Not only that," Larsen continued, "the
deck can be used to play any standard card game the user desires.Lookout
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