Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: UP.SDK for WML

Author:Andrew Herron
Posted:4/28/1999; 8:50:21 AM
Topic:setting up and using channels
Msg #:5377 (In response to 5371)
Prev/Next:5376 / 5378

We are very much involved in building services for the mobile internet market hear in Europe - so I'm more than a little biased on this topic! So with that caveat...

Accross Europe mobile network operators have been busy building out their existing GSM based digital networks since last summer in preparation for the rollout of WAP based services during 1999. In this respect the UK and France are leading the way. Initially these services will be accessed at 9,600/14,400 using existing GSM network data capabilities. However in parallel with the WAP rollout most European mobile networks are starting to upgrade the data side of their networks to GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) which will deliver between 64-128K initially. So this stuff is really happening here in Europe.

In Europe we are lucky to have a completely interoperable mobile infrastructure based on the digital GSM standard. In fact it is the one area where I can safely say that Europe leads the US by a signifcant amrgin. Analog networks are still in use but are a very small segment of the total market. As I travel around Europe my GSM mobile phone works wherever I happen to be. Europeans tend to make their mobile phones very much an intrinsic part of both their their business and social lives. And as no one pays for incoming calls mobile phones are left on for far longer periods each day than in the US (US - less than 4 hours, Europe - 14-15 hours).

It is absolutely true that WAP based mobile internet services require content to be marked up in WML (Wireless Markup Language). WAP based services are certainly not in any way like short messaging - although originally some networks did propose to use data encoded short messaging as the delivery mechanism this ha now been dropped. WML tries to address the limitations of the mobile device (small screen, no mouse, restricted UI, limited access speeds initially etc etc). The compelling story behind WAP is that Motorola, Nokia, Ericsson, Alcatel, Mitsubishi, Sagem, Siemens amongst others have said that they expect to have WAP capabilities in all their digital mobile phones by the end of next year - essentially if you buy a mobile phone it will be able to access WAP services. With the European mobile phone market growing at about 40-50% per year and with most of that growth now occuring in the consumer sector our research and that od the network operators says that there is a strong market for mobile information services. Essentially WAP phones will become mobile NC's that are carried in the pocket. Delivering compelling services to these devices will require more than just physically reformatting an HTML Web page into WML. We believe that successful mobile internet services will have the following characteristics;

Time - I want the latest news headline now...not when I'm sitting at my PC.

Location - I'm in Paris for the should be smart enough to understand this.

Relevance - As I'm in Paris my traffic news service should adjust appropriately and my 'Hot Restaurants' service should do the same.

In conclusion I would say that there are always going to be trade-off's with pocket sized mobile devices. WAP devices are not intended to deliver 'IE5 on a PC accessing the Web' capability but they can deliver compelling and exciting new services wherever you happen to be.


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