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.

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