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IMS Infrastructure Debate Ignores Handsets

A research study from Disruptive Analysis has examined the evolution of IMS- and SIP-capable mobile handsets. While much attention has focused on deployments of IMS network infrastructure and applications, the need for a new class of phones has been largely forgotten.

In theory, the much-hyped deployment of IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) networks extends carriers� abilities to deliver new services like push-to-talk, instant messaging and future innovative �combinational services�. Many service providers are investing in the IMS blueprint for building out new IP core networks, and a flexible �application layer� which, they hope, will simultaneously enable them to lower operating costs and drive revenues from myriad new services.

But while infrastructure standards are quite well-established, only the most basic technological enablers of the phones have been agreed. There is no consensus on how to create the �user experience� for IMS phones, nor the ways in which applications interact each other, or other functions, on the device itself.

Many widely-envisioned usage models for IMS actually require the phones to be capable of �multi-tasking� � something only achievable by top-end smartphones today. These issues will lead to delayed development of the handsets, and an early focus on carrier-specific proprietary implementations. IMS phone rollout and uptake will be much slower than expected, with negative impacts for service providers and their suppliers.

The report finds that it will be 2009 before massmarket 20 percent plus penetration of IMS functionality onto handsets is attained, and in most cases this will still only be through �partial IMS� implementations. Nevertheless, the problems should be overcome eventually. In 2011, it is forecast that there will be almost 500 million IMS-capable phones shipped globally.

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