Internet mobile phones? Ready, set ...wait!

We love to hear about the latest gadgets as much as the next WAN geek, but we're sceptical about the likelihood of Internet-capable mobile phones being anything more than expensive torture devices - at least for the next five years or so. OK, so the usual juggernauts are lined up to develop applications, network infrastructure and end devices. Witness the announcements recently from IBM and AT&T, Motorola, America Online and Oracle to name a few.

Some wireless Web applications are tailored to text-only delivery, which makes things bearable for getting your stock quotes (mission-critical application for any options-laden road warrior), weather, e-mail and news. But anything beyond basic text is downright painful today, and it's not likely to improve in the near term.

Actually, this is good news for most IT managers - it's one less newfangled feature to add to your corporate connectivity plan in the near term. However, chances are you will have to appease the techno-drivers in your company with some mobile-surfing capabilities, so keep the following in mind: the limitations of end devices, typically 12 lines of viewing space and low-speed connections, means we're stuck waiting for another development cycle before getting out of the painful stage of wireless surfing. Besides the viewing issue, can you imagine typing in a reply on today's keypads? In the interim, you can begin to flesh out your company's existing mobile phone policy.

Think managing that is fun now? Wait until you also have to determine who gets to use which applications, not to mention the fun of troubleshooting wireless access via mobile phone to your intranet. Your virtual private network strategy will probably need an update as well. After all, you'll need some sort of security solution for a whole new class of mobile end points.

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