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WAP was the week that was

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Although no one seems to know what the hell is going on in the WAP world, researchers Ovum warn us that there isn't much time to get whatever you're doing right. Ovum has offered some beautifully long-winded sentences to explain what we all knew anyway.

"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".

Translation It's been overhyped.

"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 centre stage. But before that happens, players will have to work extra
hard to get user buy-in and overcome any backlash."

Translation And even you have bought into the hype. What you've produced is crap.

"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. Only by doing that can they hope to survive to fight tomorrow's battles."

Translation So sort it out.

  • None of this has stopped people announcing WAP-type things though - even if they're not actually doing anything yet. Virgin and SingTel have signed a "memorandum of understanding" (that old chestnut) to create a billion-dollar venture for cellular stuff in Asia.
  • First Direct, one of the Internet banks, has set up a Wap portal for members. You can get SMS messages about your account but not much else. Still, it's a start.
  • Where do you get hold of the bloody things though - that's what you want to know. Well, soon you can. All the main UK supermarkets are set up to sell BT Cellnet's WAP phones (of course, you will only be able to access the sites that BT Cellnet chooses - anyone remember the open standards idea?). To go along with the announcement BT Cellnet released a whole range of dodgy, uncheckable facts about how popular it was and how it was making the W service much cheaper. It'll cost yer 79.99 with 50 cheque on redemption. Phones marques include Nokia, Motorola, Mitsubishi, Siemens and Alcatel.
  • On the other hand, you could go for one of the 50,000 WAP phones that FT.com plans to give away FREE. It's "teamed up" with dressmart.com (is that dress-mart or dress-smart?) and they'll let you get news headlines, stock prices, travel stuff and entertainment information.
  • What about the future? Well, WAP phones will have touch screens. And the man that said this is in a unique position because he is European VP for MicroTouch - what a piece of luck! Touch screens will be cheaper and better and everyone's lives will be that little bit better.
  • If you want to make your own WAP site in preparation for the billions of users just waiting to look at you on little tiny screens, "leading" domain-based services company, Virtual Internet has GyroWap for you. "In under fifteen minutes, even those with no previous programming experience will be able to design their own homepage, contact page and custom area." No snakeoil required.
  • But, as we've said before, this is all academic because we'll all be dead with brain tumours by the time the technology is finally sorted out. While Europe is pretending that mobiles are safe because it's the first time we've led the world with technology since the Industrial Revolution, both Israel and Japan have their heads screwed on. Japan is to impose new limits on mobiles emissions and Israel has got one step further and sent legislation through parliament to put health warnings on mobiles.

That's all the overblown hype for last week. ®

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