[Newsbytes] WAP's Window Of Opportunity Closing - Report

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From: Rohit Khare (rohit@uci.edu)
Date: Thu May 25 2000 - 02:36:49 PDT


WAP's Window Of Opportunity Closing - Report

By: Sylvia Dennis
Date: 05/22/00

It may the latest thing to hit the mobile phone market, but the
window of opportunity for wireless application protocol (WAP)
technology my be closing, according to a new report.

The study, titled "WAP Market Strategies," from Ovum, said that
now that users are beginning to see what all the fuss over WAP
was about, there is a significant danger of disappointment and
backlash against the technology.

Michele MacKenzie, an Ovum analyst and lead author of the report,
said that this gives industry players just a short time to come
up with the goods.

"WAP was never meant as the be-all and end-all of mobile Internet
- as and when mobile network improvements allow, more
sophisticated technologies will take center stage. But before
that happens, players will have to work extra hard to get user
buy-in and overcome any backlash," she said.

Ovum's report points out that the development of WAP was never
going to be easy given the widely differing interests of the
players involved - what Ovum calls "collision of the mobile world
with the Internet world."

This, the $3.150 report said, has resulted in slow progress and
disappointing early releases of the technology. In fact, it said,
WAP may end up being squeezed as next-generation technologies
catch up during the next three years.

Ovum said that as the first generation of WAP-enabled mobile
phones finally comes to market in volume, the industry has been
warned that it does not have long to get it right, as WAP is not
the only technology available.

In the meantime, although WAP has massive industry backing, the
delays in decision-making are leading some players to hedge their

Ericsson, for example, is backing a dual-mode microbrowser. Even
worse, Ovum noted, the development of WAP handsets has been out
of step with coming "2G+" mobile network upgrades.

This means, the independent telecommunications research firm
said, that the early WAP user will need to buy yet another
handset to take advantage of the faster speeds.

"That will cause customer alienation, and marketing headaches for
the handset vendors," said Mackenzie.

Against this backdrop, Mackenzie said that mobile Internet
players need to be aware that the time to act is now rather than

"Operators and content providers can't afford to wait for better
technology they can act now by moving beyond the hype and playing
to the strengths of WAP. They must become wireless data
champions, and encourage adoption by delivering really compelling
and innovative applications," she said, adding that, only by
doing that can they hope to survive to fight tomorrow's battles.

Ovum's report predicts 1.5 billion mobile subscribers globally by
2006, 684 million of which will use microbrowser-enabled (based
on WAP and/or other technologies) services.

This compares with 500 million fixed Internet users. By 2006, the
firm said, 82 percent of the installed base will be
microbrowser-enabled. Annual data revenues from microbrowser
users globally, meanwhile, will be $337 billion by 2006.

Ovum's Web site is at http://www.ovum.com .

Reported by Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com .

07:28 CST

(20000522/Press Contact: Laura Parker, Ovum Europe +44-202-7551-9238;
Mark Kirkham, Ovum US 781-246-3773 /WIRES ONLINE, TELECOM, BUSINESS/)

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