Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A port to push

I found out yesterday that the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) has assigned Funambol an official tcp/udp port. Port 4745 belongs to fmp, a.k.a. Funambol Mobile Push.

What does it mean? I am not totally sure, but I believe it is cool to have a port assigned by IANA, that nobody else can use...

Jokes apart, the port is assigned to our TCP-based push mechanism, to push email (and more) to mobile devices. That is, to notify a device there is email ready to pick up. The famous beep of your BlackBerry: "You got mail!".

We also have an SMS-based push mechanism, which is linked to the OMA standard, but it is sometimes a bit too expensive to use, in particular for enterprises (not a major problem for mobile operators, since the cost for them to send an SMS is pretty much zero). TCP-push is a better solution in some cases and we offer our users to choose the best
option suiting them.

This gives me another opportunity to talk about why push is important for mobile email. Some people tell me "I do not really need push, I can pull my email when I want and it will be enough". That is true, but let me tell you a secret: you won't...

You won't check your email often on your phone. You will do it rarely, when you have spare time and you are not going to get close to a PC in the next 30 minutes. When you are mobile, you are most likely about to go home or the office, or you just got out of the home or the office. You have a PC there, you do not really feel the need to check your email on your phone right away. You can wait.

If you are around and your phone beeps, showing a message from your boss (that is, either the one at work or your wife), you will answer. You will not delay a reply. You will react. You have to. You cannot wait.

The usage of a mobile phone is all about reacting, not acting. Pull is acting. Push forces reacting. That's why it works. That's why it is addictive. That's why you use a BlackBerry. That's why you use SMS.

And do not tell me you wait until you get home to answer a SMS from your wife ;-)