By Dan Jones Palm Computing has faced up to its inadequacies in providing wireless data content for its devices and joined the wireless application protocol (WAP) Forum. In May, Palm had tried to go it alone and pilot a web clipping wireless content program for its Palm VII device. The 3Com Corp subsidiary insists that […]
By Dan Jones
Palm Computing has faced up to its inadequacies in providing wireless data content for its devices and joined the wireless application protocol (WAP) Forum. In May, Palm had tried to go it alone and pilot a web clipping wireless content program for its Palm VII device. The 3Com Corp subsidiary insists that the web clipping service is still a big part of its future plans and that it will look at ways of combining the two technologies. However, its membership of the forum tacitly acknowledges the head of steam that is building up behind WAP in the mobile device and handset industry.
Palm says that its main reason for joining the WAP Forum is to gain access to the technology for some of its PalmOS licensees, particularly in the handset community. David Weilmunster, director for platform strategies at Palm, insisted that joining the WAP Forum does not mean that web clipping is defunct, claiming that the service is a little bit more rich in content than WAP-based services. These services allow mobile devices to access the internet through a proxy server that sits on top of a web application server converting the standard internet protocol into the WAP format so that data can be transmitted on width- restricted wireless networks. At the moment we don’t see those proxy servers as a major force, Weilmunster said.
However, others in the industry would disagree. There are already WAP networks running in Europe and Japan and Sprint says it will launch WAP across North America in the fourth quarter. More than two dozen handset manufacturers have committed themselves to launching phones equipped with WAP micro-browsers this year. Seamus McAteer, director of web strategies at Jupiter Communications, compares this concerted effort with Palm’s launch of its own wireless service in May. Palm is arrogant to feel that it can succeed where others have failed, he says. The company, McAteer says, is trying to drive a standard with just one machine – the Palm VII – and an outdated network, the BellSouth wireless network. He expects that the Palm VII will fail in the market and that the web clipping service will be dropped and replaced with a WAP microbrowser in future Palm devices.
However, McAteer says that the battle will be won on the cellular handsets. Jupiter expects that by 2003 between 30 to 50 million WAP-enabled handsets will be available in the US alone. So, providers are likely to start developing optimized content for a large installed base.