WAP is no ‘world wide wait': analyst

Wireless application protocol (WAP) is still several years from reaching mass penetration in Australia, but it's hardly "the new worldwide wait" described by a local Intel official, according to Geoff Johnson, research director at Gartner Group.

He was responding to the recent claims of David Bolt, general manager of Intel Australia, who predicted WAP would need to undergo a further five years development before consumers were able to reap any benefits from the much-publicised mode of mobile communication.

Bolt had cited the example of checking share prices from a mobile handset to back his statement, suggesting it takes 15 minutes for a WAP phone user to successfully perform the task.

But Johnson countered: "I understand the sentiments but he's way off on the timing and details.

"Within two to three years, WAP will move to Extensive Markup Language (XML) where the scripting will be more feature-rich and the introduction of colour screens will also drive its adoption amongst consumers."

Johnson conceded WAP is "at the top of the hype cycle" and people would be disappointed when the protocol failed to deliver on all the promises being made about it.

However, he added: "It will have a broad-based penetration because it is at the intersection of two rapidly growing areas, mobile telephony and Web access."

Johnson also disputed Bolt's suggestions that companies would have to "start afresh" in their implementation of networking and infrastructure to adopt WAP.

He conceded "there are some issues" organisations will face accommodating WAP within their existing infrastructures, but Johnson said it would require a strategy of "revision rather than replacement" to achieve.

Meanwhile, Bolt encouraged companies to ensure that all electronic processes, including numbering and codifying systems, were perfectly aligned to deliver what he called a "customer centric" business model.

"Re-architect everything," he urged.

Bolt claimed many organisations had been reluctant to completely redesign their e-commerce systems and infrastructure, instead choosing to settle for technology add-ons, a move they now regretted.

"All those who didn't are saying ‘I wish we started afresh'," he said.

Bolt conceded Intel itself was still "a couple of years away" from the "customer centric" infrastructure he was touting.

However, he said the company's Australian operation was currently drawing $40 million a month in business-to-business Internet transactions, a figure that was helping place Intel in the top "two or three" e-commerce companies worldwide.

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