On device portals – SurfKitchen

Following my blog On device portals – ODP, Widgets and the Phonetop: The iPhone killer, Saviour of IMS and the future of mobile apps?, I had intended to explore the area of On device portals(ODPs) further – especially in the context of Widgets and IMS integration.

Hence, I met SurfKitchen CTO Dave Evans a couple of weeks ago to get his views on ODPs, Widgets and IMS.

The SurfKit Product Portfolio is a product suite of clients that provides mobile operators and service providers with a method to find, download and consume mobile data services. The Surfkitchen product is a service creation environment. It is an On Device Framework that integrates and calls other services. It has evolved from its initial concept into its current incarnation over the past few years.

The next generation of SurfKitchen technology allows application on the framework to act as a widget. The widgets could be developed by third parties. Which widgets run on the device depends on the subscriber selection and operators’ policy. In that sense, it could be a walled garden or not depending on what the operator chooses.

If the operator’s network supports IMS, The ODP would utilise the IMS as a service layer (For instance – Location service layer provide by IMS). It could also use IMS to perform tasks across all applications allowing IMS capabile widgets to be built using XML and Script . Hence, SurfKitchen’s current positioning around IMS is – the SurfKitchen platform will only support IMS when operators implement IMS & the Protocol stacks become available in the devices.

The SurfKitchen platform is technology agnostic and supports Java, Symbian and Microsoft Windows 5.0 and it can be acquired using a range of methods that include Client native, Device Pre-Installation, Point of distribution, Memory Card, Bluetooth OTA, Infra-red OTA and OTA delivery

I was interested in ODPs because IMS clients are still not very prevalent and I don’t see them on roadmaps either from major handset manufacturers. Hence, an ODP could potentially perform some of the functions of an IMS client.

Are IMS clients useful? The answer to that question(as with everything in IMS) is ‘It depends’. Certainly as the network upgrades to an IP network, there is some value in the client being able to access the power on the server(i.e. the network). However, I have never believed in the hype driven, sweeping vision of IMS(especially when it extends to differential charging, bearer management etc). Hence, this approach may be a simpler way to take advantage of some features of IMS.

I shall continue to speak to more vendors to gain more insights into ODPs. Many thanks to Dave and his team for their feedback

A block diagram looks like this