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Crawford right on wireless Web failure

A reader writes about the "real reason" it's taken so long for Wireless Application Protocol services to take off effectively.


Crawford right on wireless Web failure

In response to the May 22 column by William Crawford, "The wireless Web: Hype hurts":

It is great to hear a resounding thumbs-down from you on the wireless Web and associated fantasies. This is an issue we continue to find ourselves in fierce debate about in the United States, with companies bent on squeezing the Internet into ill-suited mobile devices.

Recently in San Jose, we were a part of a conference panel that encapsulated well this philosophical cul-de-sac. Half the room was looking at ways to turn laptops into mobile phones, and the other half mobiles into laptops. The debate only served to galvanize these monocular positions.

Alongside the misapplication of devices is the very real concern carriers have about inviting the Web into their networks. Carriers understand that beyond infrastructure, their chief asset is their customer base. By welcoming wireless Web players in, they lose control over subscribers and effectively lose business they could have won creating content services of their own. This is the real reason it's taken so long for these WAP pull services to take off effectively.

Carriers aren't sold. That's not to say they aren't desperate to find new non-subscriber revenue sources in 2G and soften the blow of 3G spectrum licenses. But what they want to see are business models that complement their own and lead the way to non-voice revenue on existing infrastructure.

We agree that "push" services hold the most promise. But for them to work they need to be relevant and permission-based, and guarantee privacy. It's a tall order, but one that will eventually allow the PDA to live up to its name.

Brendan Walsh
Director of communications
Montreal, Canada