Back with the WAP

Weekly roundup: things are looking up, I tell you

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A week is long time in politics and, it seems, mobile application protocols. We still maintain WAP is crap while also saying it will become popular at some point. How can we be so two-faced? Easy. The current slew of gateways, sites and phones are the equivalent of early Gameboy models. Your WAP phone is a Gameboy, your PC, the games console. One is one hundred times better but that won't stop people from sitting on buses and pumping away at a tiny toy.

So last week we had the news of Kannel's open-source, free WAP gateway and Nokia/Cable & Wireless also got in on the act saying they will also produce an open-source "mobile platform" to run apps on. What are these apps everyone is going on about? Don't ask stupid questions. Oh, and some stuff on WAP porn of all things.

So what's new? Well, Richard Birkby took exception to our claim that everything currently available was "rubbish" and suggested we looked at his site, wap.currypages.com. He was on to a winner here because curry and lager are the lifeblood of the vulture. So we had a peek.

Well, for a WAP site, it's very good. Check out latest reviews or input your home town and get access to reviews of the curry houses there. According to Rich, he now gets more hits on WAP than the Internet. The review setup is good for WAP - short, pithy, basic information - although the quality of review is as variable as the curry houses themselves. We say: Chicken Madras and WAPpadoms please.

Here we go though - another shite idea. "Digital Bridges signs development deal with Steve Jackson". That right the "leading" WAP entertainment developer (an industry of hundreds of Pied Pipers heading off in different directions) is to produce sorcery games.

What the hell are they? Oh, role-playing things. Does anyone else remember those fantasy books (think it was Steve Jackson and one other) where you took decisions like "Go left (turn to page 56) or go right (turn to page 94)"? Well, presumably, it will be just like that. Except of course, if you hang up, will there be some kind of memory of where you got up to. Probably not. So once you start, that's your lot. And it will cost loads of money. Will it work? You know what - it probably will, but not for three years or so.

We've also got a survey for you. We hate surveys and this is an old one too (June) but then it's from Forrester who are often the most interesting of the poll-takers. Forrester says that by next year all new mobiles will be WAP-enabled. Probably true (at least that's what everyone is banking on). This will cause "hypergrowth" in WAP. All this access to the Internet stuff will split people into two types, apparently. One group will use a whole range of devices to access the Net, the other group will have just one. Uh-huh.

But here's the crunch - only the PC will really be used for buying goods online. "Retail revenues from the mobile Internet will prove difficult to attain because consumers will be unwilling to make complex purchases over the mobile Internet." So there you go.

Last, but not least, our old friends at the WAP group have turned on us evil journalists. Unsurprisingly though, it was ZDNet that got it in the neck for going for the easy, melodramatic angle and failing to do proper research - really? That's unheard of!

Check out the emails below:

Subject: Yet another pundit saying WAP will fail.

I thought we buried the "WAP is dead" discussion. Often the subject of poorly informed reporting, sensationalism and a lack of something media-worthy for a journo to print.

"WAP is dead..." is far more interesting to the average reader than "WAP push architecture", hence the prevalence of such articles. Hopefully the media'll get fed up with reporting on WAP and this will take the heat off the community to live up to the much hyped expectations, letting us focus on the real objectives at hand.

Disappointing, especially as we have fellow members hailing from ZDNet itself.


Subject: RE: Yet another pundit saying WAP will fail.

I have sent my response in to ZDNet. Read as follows

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Poor reporting. Very typical of what's coming out of the US at the moment. Time to wake up and smell the coffee... WAP & Wireless is a $600bn industry.

The fact that this reporter talks of "Web Phones" smacks of naivety. Did we once refer to the TV as "Radio with Pictures" or the Internet as "Electronic Publishing"? New paradigms, not new technologies viewed through old paradigms.

Who would have thought that Lynx browsers, gray text pages, poor content, insecure transactions , 9K connections would then become the Internet as we know and Love ? Isn't there an a similarity between this and WAP as it stands right now?

Let's take a rain check and see how things stand in 2001.

Subject: RE: Yet another pundit saying WAP will fail.

The interesting thing is that he says "WAP is dead," but more than 20% of the responders to his mini-poll said that they already owned a WAP phone. If that is death then I want to die like that :-)


We would like to make it clear that anyone that would like to comment on The Reg's stance on WAP need only click here. If it's interesting enough, we'll whack it on the Letters page. ®

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