RealTime IT News

Wireless Not WAP

The Meta Group has found that between 65 and 75 percent of WAP users in Europe and Asia are no longer using their WAP services via their mobile phones.

Analysts are attributing the failure more to design than the theory and delivery systems behind it. "With new technologies on the horizon, we should see data access from mobile phones pick up again during the next two to three years -- but only if the ergonomics are substantially improved," said one analyst.

Wireless communications are in a state of flux to some degree, as businesses get about the task of aligning themselves with partners sufficiently geared towards developing content, platforms and cross-platform software and devices to exploit the new environment.

Motorola, for instance, has recently licenced Sony's 'Memory Stick' storage system for use, and will support the technology it develops via it's own DragonBall processor, aimed squarely at the emerging, wireless-enabled PDA market. For PDA developers, this is good news because it opens up Motorola-chipped handsets to them, without the added cost of building the technology into the platform from scratch, something Sony would have found prohibitive thus far. In future, this is likely to mean Palm devices can be converged within the Sony Memory Stick System, which competes with the Secure Digital Memory Card format, currently used in the newer high end Palm devices.

Meanwhile, in a counterpoint to the Motorola move, the resurgent Intel has announced a deal with Microsoft which will see it rollout its Intel XScale Microprocessor, after it has collaborated with the software giant to optimise Microsoft's Windows Media Player, as well as the company's audio and digital rights management technology for use with Intel's low-power micro-chips for PDAs and handsets. Intel, whose chips are already installed in Compaq's iPaq range, has a vision of the future with an Intel chip in everything, mobile, immobile, pervasive or not.

Intel has already started touting a future where, as its own spin lab puts it, mobile phone handsets will be "capable of operating at speeds of up to 1 GHz and providing up to a month of battery life," with their low-wattage chip technology. At the Amsterdam Intel Developers' Forum, Sunlin Chou, of the company's Technology and Manufacturing Group said, "By carefully merging Intel's low-power, high-performance logic technology with Intel's high-density flash memory technology and adding precision analog elements, we are able to cost effectively integrate all the key silicon technology elements required for the next generation of wireless devices -- without compromising performance or density."

The Technology companies are doing their bit for the set-piece, developing platforms that will, cost effectively, put a wireless device in many, many hands. And exactly how many? Well, in the U.S., where all good statistics come from, the market is set to see one million users pushing data through the ether by the end of this year and generating revenues of US$150 million. By 2007, when the number of U.S.-based users will soar to 91 million, one-third of all transactions will be entertainment related, surelly a vast economic opportunity for the advertising industry, to say the very least. IDC, has posted a value of US$26 billion by 2004 for the worldwide smart handheld device market, most of this being 'smart' phones, sales of which should top 64 million units by 2004.

Meanwhile, the electronics manufacturers have seen the (wireless) light, and one by one, are rolling out devices thick and fast, with Sharp bringing out a Linux-based device to try to wrest control of the electronic organiser market back from Palm. Palm meanwhile, is getting plenty of attention, with Acer recently licensing it's OS technology, ditching Windows CE platform -- not insignificant considering Acer PDAs currently number 1 million.