launched two products Tuesday aimed at providing PC-like Web
browsing on IP-based 3G phones in the U.S.
Officials announced the release of a content manager, dubbed Openwave
Mobile JAM Plus, for Java-enabled phones and color browser support in the
Openwave mobile browser 6.1.
Openwave Mobile Browser 6.0, which is essentially the same as v6.1, has
been in use in Japan for some time now, primarily through wireless carrier
KDDI. Version 6.1 is merely the global standard, with no real browser
According to Brian Dally, Openwave director of product management, the
features found in the new wireless phone browser should create a lot of
interest in the U.S., just as it did in Japan.
“As data networks are improving, so are the things end users can do with a
wireless phone and what they want to do is increasing,” he said. “The
browser is an integral part of that.”
The browser supports the latest mobile Web standard, Wireless Application
Protocol (WAP) 2.0, which lets developers design wireless cascading style
sheet (WCSS) Web pages and XHTML.
Carriers and content developers will also be happy about the new browser’s
ability to support “cookies,” a data file that collects user information,
and an authentication mechanism for one-click shopping like that found on
the Amazon.com e-commerce site. Customers may be thankful for the
auto-fill feature, which fills in previously-used words so users don’t have
to continually punch on the keypad to spell out words, as well as a
clip-and-save feature which lets users save Web pages on the phone after
To make all the content easily accessible as well as less time consuming,
Openwave’s developers created the content manager, which lets users do
everything from preview photos before downloading to accessing a wireless
carrier’s content catalog to find out what services are available on the
Officials say improvements and wider acceptance of the Java 2 Platform,
Mobile Enterprise (J2ME) by phone carriers is making it easier to develop
more tools to provide compelling content. Tied with its color browser,
Openwave expects to give wireless carriers what they need to bring in more
While Openwave sources didn’t release information on carrier uptake to its
content manager, they did announce color browser support is being
configured on 35 different wireless phone models from 20 separate
manufacturers. The mobile browser is licensed to 40 manufacturers worldwide.
LG InfoComm, the North American arm of Korean-based LG Electronics, is
already selling units with Openwave Mobile Browser 6.1 on its LG Model 5350
phones, which use the code division multiple access (CDMA) 2000 1X
technology found on Verizon Wireless
and Sprint PCS
national 3G networks. Sprint is using the LG 5350 phones as
part of its Sprint PCS Vision product line.
The phone enhancements are expected to bring some relief to an area of 3G
that’s struggled to date, according to research firm Jupiter Research.
According to a recent report, only six percent of U.S. wireless phone users
browse the Internet, and the firm expects browser-based data services to
remain at an anemic 25 percent in 2006.
Dally said the numbers aren’t anything particularly worrisome, just a
matter of content providers and content users finding out what works.
“There are a lot of challenges implementing a (mobile service),” he
said. “We’re still learning what people want to do with a browser, and
people and still finding out what they want on a browser.”
Openwave officials expects the color browser and Java content manager to
spur some interest for phone browsing in the coming months and make a case
for compelling content over 3G phones, according to Thomas Reardon,
Openwave co-chief technology officer.
“Java technology is a critical, core handset ingredient, and just like the
browser it is far too important for it to be an island on the phone,”
Reardon said. “Downloading and managing all kinds of content and
applications, whether photos, Java applications or ring tones, will provide
a more simple, fun and consistent experience on the mobile phone.”
Openwave is an old hat in the wireless handset development market. Formed
in November 2000 after Phone.com and Software.com joined forces, the company’s developers have been designing products to
enhance the digital wireless phone experience.
The company already has some experience bringing color
to the phone, when Phone.com released its UP.Browser 8-bit color
micro-browser for 2.5G phones.