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IBM thinks WAP phones are small potatoes

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WAP phones are never going to be a big thing according to IBM executives speaking at a briefing at the company's offices in Austin, Texas.

While the IBM crew spoke about the future of wireless computing and online communication they predicted that WAP would survive as a standard, but said that once devices like the Palm were properly kitted out with wireless internet access, WAP phones would not be able to compete.

All the executives speaking at the meet were very pro-WAP in general, talking enthusiastically at length about new standards coming out and its robust security features and so on, yet when it came to the crunch, none could give it 100 per cent backing.

Ron Sperano, IBM's mobile market development program director commented: "Is WAP going to survive as a standard? Yes. Is a WAP phone going to be the access device of choice? No."

The problem as IBM sees it is that the display is just too small, and it has failed to gain any real foothold in the US market. Palms, on the other hand, are winning big points with those at Big Blue.

Even the pervasive computing segment's marketing director, Jon Prial, was not keen on many WAP services. Prial said that he preferred to use a device with a larger screen to look at the web, but that WAP still had its place.

Sperano was keen to make the distinction between the US and European uptake of the WAP standard. While we European types like our WAP phones (our Kieren excepted) our American counterparts are much happier with Palm style devices. But US mobile phone coverage is, by European standards, dismal.

Recent IDC research predicted that the number of WAP enabled phones would equal the number of non-WAP phones by 2003, and that SMS services would be phased out as more people sent emails by phone. ®

Related Stories:
Another WAP stumbling block in Geoworks lawsuit
Despite brickbats WAP will grow

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