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This crazy WAP world we live in

More sagas from the Wibbly Wobbly WAP

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As one reader pointed out, following our last rundown of the hype circus that is WAP, this stuff exists, it's out there and does work.

So if was with a flea in our ear that we trawled around the WAP stalls at last week's Internet World 2000 conference, talking to those at the cutting dge, asking questions and finally passing out from despair.

First we attended a talk about how great WAP was and how it was changing the world. This great change manifested itself in a sudden tiredness and slight nausea as the speaker's monotonous drone confirmed exactly the opposite. We left, but were unable to focus on the company name so we can't inform you who to avoid next show.

MobileID was doing slightly better. It basically offers a customizable Start screen, so you can "take advantage" of features like messaging, email forwarding, address book etc. You have to dial in to get at it (bit annoying (and expensive) from the address book angle) but it's free and a bit better than the default menu that comes with the phone. Where's the money? "Oh, we're not even looking at profits. We've got loads of VC money." Sigh. "You know what they say: 'If you're making a profit, you're in the wrong business'." We left the poor fool behind.

Mind you, the personal portal idea has been picked up by some others - including Room33. After waiting 10 minutes for service, we grabbed the brochures and moved on. Room33 is basically exactly the same - you organize your details through a Website and then dial into a separate WAP server to get your customised screen up. Room33 looks to have a few features over Mobile ID but neither seem to realise that people don't want to have to go to a Website to configure their mobile phone. They want to do it on the bloody phone. Best of luck, lads.

Space2go charges for its service (although the PR bumf appears to say it's free - at what point do you believe stall staff?). But then it can transport files through the WAP interface. Really? Would reading a Word document on a WAP phone be of any use? "Oh, you can't view the files. You can just see their filenames." A prize to anyone who can tell us when this would come in useful - and no gadget freaks please. Amazingly the company's turnover is a round 1,000,000 euros. Get the feeling that those business plans haven't been finished off yet?

Feeling like Cassandra at this point, we stumble across Virtual Internet - the boys who reckon anyone can create "a multiple page WAP site, even with no knowledge of programming, in under 15 minutes". We're nothing but fair, so away you go lads. They were telling the truth! But then we wouldn't have paid 55p, let alone 55 for the end result. It has to be on their site, you can only put about three pages together and it can't convert from HTML.

"You see, it's actually written in WML, which is like the WAP equivalent of HTML." We rush quickly outside and get on the first tube before we do something we'd regret.

But don't worry. While some were based on stalls on Earl's Court, the other WAP warriors were announcing still more super-plans.

Ericsson, for example, is going to put interactive TV on WAP phones. Straight up :-). The platform being jointly developed between it and Somethin' Else will be designed "for use by any broadcaster seeking to provide interactive services via mobile phones or the Internet". Apparently, bandwidth will soon be so big that we will only be limited by our imagination. Sounds like too much LSD ingestion to us.

Of course there was a biggie announcement too. Motorola, France Telecom, Amdocs, EHPT - members of that famous forum, the TeleManagement Forum - have "established the Catalyst Project to demonstrate the future of m-commerce". Lots of exploring of scopes, illustration, demonstration and facilitation.

But before you say bunkum, it does give one concrete example - that of buying from vending machines by typing in a number. Unfortunately it's been done, years ago, in Finland.

And a quick update on that brain tumour nonsense. A British company claims to have reduced radiation moving up the hands-free kit by as much as 90 per cent! "UK Powerwatch Director Alasdair Philips BSc(Eng) DAgE MIAgE is one of Europe's leading EMC Engineer and EMF-bioeffects researchers. Governments, consumer media programmes including BBC TV's Panorama and Watchdog, Councils and top electronics companies have consulted his company on mobile phone radiation."

That's why he's come up with such an authoritative name as "wind-up!" It's got an "RF choke" (nice acronym usage - means, presumably, radio frequency), causing a "tailback" and making us safe and happy and alive for only 7.99! Do we think it works? No. But then you never know with this crazy WAP world we live in. ®

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