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For the W3C Device Description Repository Implementation Workshop

Position paper of Argogroup (Argo Interactive Ltd.)

James Pearce, CTO, Argogroup; 31st May 2006

Over the last 6 years, Argogroup has provided tools and platforms to enable the optimization of the user experience of mobile data services. With our Monitor Master solution, we provide device-focussed testing and monitoring of wireless browsing, messaging, and streaming applications. With our Device Master platform, we provide a structured approach to allow the capturing, storage and publishing of device description information.

It is this latter area that we believe brings valuable experience and expertise to the Device Description Repository Implementation Workshop.

Our experience with Device Descriptions

Since late 1999, Argogroup (and an acquired company, Ltd) has been capturing "profile" data about mobile devices. This has been for the purpose of simulating of devices when testing the quality of mobile services, and for the analysis of the compatibility and interoperability of those services with those devices. The device description platform (which is used both by ourselves and our customers) is known as Device Master.

We (and our customers) test, or profile, a handset to gather its description. The profiling process involves taking a real device - connected over a real network - and understanding how it behaves when accessing a wide range of content. Within the Device Master platform, we host a set of reference pages, services, and applications that are visible over the wireless medium, and the profiler uses the device to visit each of them in sequence. This content is designed to stress the areas of diversity known to be present in mobile devices' data service support: for example, we are able to exercise the behaviour of the device with respect to WAP1.x and WML, WAP2.0 and XHTML, SMS, EMS, MMS, video, DRM, J2ME, and Unicode character set support, amongst many other standards.

We then store this data in a RDBMS database, and can export it in a variety of formats, including web-based reports of the devices' capabilities, RSS, RDF and XML (for example mapping relevant attributes to UAProf or WURFL where possible).

Support for a Device Description Ecosystem

We do not believe it is possible to have a single, authoritative repository of device information. We imagine an environment where a large number of parties are able to create and publish device descriptions (whether they be handset vendors, network operators, content providers, or independent organisations), and make them available in an open and publicly-published manner.

It will be possible to create an ecosystem where device descriptions are shared in a brokered market place. Participants have the ability to create and sign their own profiles, but also to take in and use descriptions produced by others.

This approach will create a "critical mass" of Device Description production that would make the usage of such data an easy, efficient, and trustworthy exercise. Rather than an environment where profiles are generated by one constituency alone (say, device manufacturers), participants have the ability to compare, browse, and review profiles in a collaborative manner - much like the open-source code development paradigm.

As an example, we are particularly intrigued by the idea that the handset acceptance teams within a network operator (who are mandated with testing devices) may be able to provision handset knowledge into the ecosystem - to be consumed at a later stage by, say, content providers.

Presenting at the workshop

Argogroup wishes to present at the workship its views on possible architectures and techniques that we feel are valuable for the DDR implementation. In particular, we feel our experience with the technologies and processes of gathering device descriptions is unique.

We would also be interested in articulating our intentions to help seed DDR data with device description data that we currently own.

About Argogroup

Argogroup specialises in optimizing user experience for mobile services, a discipline that focuses on the interaction between network, service and handset. The company's two software products - Monitor Master and Device Master - help handset manufacturers and mobile operators test, monitor and develop products and services so that users spend more time and money on them.

Monitor Master is the world's leading User Experience Optimization platform, in use by over 60 mobile operators and equipment manufacturers worldwide. Device Master automatically creates detailed handset profiles so that all device data is held in a central knowledge base.

Argogroup is backed by Apax Partners and 3i. Its headquarters are near Guildford, UK, with offices in Stuttgart, Seattle, San Francisco, Paris, Milan, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Stockholm. For more information, please visit:

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