RealTime IT News

Expert Confirms WAP Users' Fears

[London, ENGLAND] In a report published Thursday, usability expert Jakob Nielsen has confirmed what WAP users have long suspected -- WAP doesn't work.

Wireless Application Protocol is supposed to be the first step towards a mobile Internet, but is failing miserably, according to the in-depth field study conducted in London, England, by the California-based Nielsen Norman Group.

"In my opinion, WAP stands for Wrong Approach to Portability. Companies shouldn't waste money fielding WAP services that nobody will use while WAP usability remains so poor," said Nielsen.

Although Nielsen has high hopes for a mobile Internet that will eventually run on more advanced technology, he heaps scorn on WAP. In doing so, he is one of the first experts to speak out against it, even though journalists have been saying much the same thing for several months.

Nielsen advises companies to sit out the current generation of WAP while planning their mobile Internet strategies.

It is just like the Web all over again, says Nielsen. His report is actually entitled: "WAP Usability -- Déjà Vu: 1994 All Over Again," alluding to a previous report from his company in 1994 which found the Web difficult to use in its early days. When the technology improved, more users adopted the Web and commercial use exploded.

However, it seems clear from Nielsen's study that the two technologies are not really comparable. Even in pre-Mosaic days, the Internet was more rewarding to use than a WAP phone.

Nielsen comments that after spending as long as a week using a WAP phone, user performance remained appallingly low.

One reason for the poor results, says the report, is that designers have carried over too many designs from the Web rather than re-thinking the interface specifically for the WAP medium.