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WAP may get lukewarm reception in Europe

August 31, 1999
Web posted at: 5:18 p.m. EDT (2118 GMT)

by Terho Uimonen


(IDG) -- Industry momentum behind WAP (wireless application protocol), an emerging technology standard that has the potential to bring the Web to mobile handsets, may be massive, but European users may still not jump on the bandwagon until at least 2001, according to new research from International Data Corp. (IDC).

A number of issues will delay a wide acceptance of WAP in Western Europe, even as most mobile operators in the region already are launching or reviewing WAP-enabled services, the market research company said in a summarized version of a new report on WAP services in Europe.
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In many respects, the market is simply not yet ready for the new technology, said Tim Sheedy, analyst with IDC's European Wireless and Mobile research service.

Initially, users will not even have access to a WAP-compatible handset, noted Sheedy, and after that is no longer a problem, the next main hurdle will be the way the service is used. "It's not a completely simple, basic service like the Web, it's not a simple point and click interface like the Web is," he said.

WAP proponents such as Finland's Nokia and Sweden's L.M. Ericsson Telephone, however, continue to push WAP as the technology standard for making the Internet truly mobile.

Nokia, for example, has announced recently that it is moving all of its WAP-service trials at various mobile operators to the latest 1.1 version of the technology specification.

In the long run, however, there is little doubt that WAP will bring many benefits to business users of mobile phones and other portable devices with built-in mini browsers, IDC said.

Terho Uimonen writes for the IDG News Service's Scandinavia bureau.

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