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Goodbye YourWAP, I'm glad I knew you

Pioneer of mobile email bites the dust

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Comment I recently got an email telling me that YourWAP is closing at the end of this month, and that if I've got anything important stored there I need to retrieve it before it goes.

YourWAP was a pioneer of mobile email. In the days before BlackBerry - or at least, before BlackBerry hit Europe - it was one of the first services to make mobile email a practical proposition. It was also one of the first to use WAP effectively.

The proposition was simple - it was an email aggregator that polled your existing POP3 accounts, but as well as Webmail it also offered access to the aggregated email via WAP. This gave you a lightweight and surprisingly fast view of your in-box, plus the ability to read text email on even a fairly basic mobile phone.

Its designers at German mobile app developer O3sis had realised - as did several other unsung heroes of WAP, such as those at Kizoom who were behind the original NationalRail enquiry site - that WAP was actually rather good at delivering text, but you really wanted to use the Web for anything more complex or interactive, such as setting up your user preferences.

Their problem was all the idiot designers who didn't understand that, and earned WAP a terrible reputation by trying to use it as a mobile version of the Web.

(Some might argue WAP was also bypassed by increased mobile data speeds and CompactHTML browsers, which made lightweight text browsing less relevant. All I can say to that is either they don't use mobile data much, or they don't pay their own mobile phone bills...)

Of course, I didn't have anything important stored on my YourWAP account. Indeed, when I looked I discovered I'd not used it in almost a year. There's plenty of other ways to push email to mobile phones now, and many email services have versions of their user interface optimised for mobile phones and PDAs. Some, such as Gmail, even have downloadable client software for smartphones.

YourWAP was ahead of its time, and yes, it did get bypassed. It was part of the learning process that brought us today's mobile email services though, and I was sad to hear the news of its imminent death. ®

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