From: Sally Khudairi (email@example.com)
Date: Thu Jun 08 2000 - 17:24:40 PDT
Phone.com picks the killer app for WAP
GMT Jun 07, 2000, 11:45 AM | ET Jun 07, 2000, 06:45 AM | PT Jun 07, 2000,
Sydney - It's a popular parlor game for the wireless industry - pick what the
killer application will be for WAP devices. While the accepted wisdom has
been that basic information, such as stock quotes and weather, will be what
consumers will pay to have on their phones, the executive vice president of
Phone.com Chuck Parrish has placed his bet in a different area. According to
Parrish - who in addition to his Phone.com job is also vice chairman of the
WAP Forum of Directors in the US - it's simple communications apps that will
get consumers flocking to WAP.
In Parrish's keynote address at Internet World in Sydney on Wednesday, he
laid it on the line: it's email and instant messaging that will make the
money and draw the crowds.
"Just look at the world of fixed-line Internet services - by far, the most
popular applications are email and instant messaging," he said. "Service
providers that have set their business model around communications have
become successf! ul. Sites like Lycos and Excite that aren't in that space
haven't done as well. This theory applies in spades in the wireless space."
But while Parrish made the case for why the "sticky mediums" of messaging
applications will be king in the WAP world, it's very dependent on the
capabilities of the third generation of mobile phones. "3G is at the heart of
this upcoming explosion in [communications] apps though, and it's necessary
to make wireless really consumer friendly," Parrish said. "Once we have
color-rich graphics and streaming media, we will see this space really take
Parrish also took the opportunity to outline the agenda for Phone.com and the
broader wireless industry, starting with developing stronger relationships
with operators and carriers. Developing applications and solving security
issues also rated high on the plan, with a new focus on streaming video and
audio, and on how that may further expand the consumer base for wireless. !
But when asked by the451 whether voice recognition is still considered a
crucial development issue, Parrish argued that it's an over-rated feature.
"While we believe strongly in text-to-voice technology, it's just another
interface. When you're in a meeting, you want to be able to read your
messages, but when you're driving at 70mph, you want to hear your stock
quotes," he said. "The really important thing is to design an intuitive and
simple way to switch between the two."
Local telecommunication analysts, however, have a few bones to pick with
Phone.com's predictions for wireless. Paul Budde, of telecoms research agency
Budde Communications, said that while communications are always popular for
mobile phones, it's not enough to give WAP an irresistible appeal.
"The real killer app on mobile voices is voice - let's face it. But while
messaging has a big future, it's simply an extension of voice services, and
certainly not specific to WAP," he said. ! "Moreover, people simply aren't
prepared to pay a lot for it."
Budde, who specializes in WAP research, disagreed that streaming media will
rapidly expand wireless services in the near future. "All the research
companies in the world agree on this. Forrester, Ovum, Budde - we all predict
that only 3-5% of mobile traffic will be data related by 2005," he said.
"It's very early days. Stockbroking and banking information are far more
likely to be the early apps for WAP - certainly more than pretty pictures
streamed in from your sister."
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