Big Blue Wireless World

SAN JOSE, CALIF. (06/13/2000) - IBM Corp.'s Mark Bregman, general manager of pervasive computing, said in a keynote address Tuesday at the eBusiness Conference and Expo here that wireless networks must become as "invisible to the end user as the technology behind the telephone" for wireless devices to become true players in e-commerce.

As reflected by this week's debut of IBM's MQSeries Everyplace middleware, Bregman said IBM currently is investing in the development of such a "next generation wireless infrastructure." A suite of software, which may be called "Webs for Everywhere," is planned for this September that manipulates Web content and enables advanced e-business transactions via a wireless handheld device, Bregman said. Integration will be key to wireless computing, Bregman stressed.

IBM, Bregman said, is itself becoming a pervasive e-business, and the company has already deployed internal wireless technology to manage many IBM inventory and procurement procedures.

IBM employees can also access one another's phone numbers while on the road or away from their PCs with what Bregman called "The Bluepages," which he used as an example of how corporate data could be securely transferred from inside the IBM firewall to the public network.

Bregman said domestic adoption of wireless technology lags behind Europe, with only 30 percent penetration as compared to Europe's 70 percent.

Citing analysts, Bregman said that by 2003 there would be more than 1 billion wireless subscribers world wide, and that wireless technology overall is experiencing nearly twice the annual growth as the PC.

Bregman said this explosion of wireless technology "will trigger the acceleration of e-business growth" and that companies that did not "get on board, will be run over."

Bregman also urged developers to "extend their applications into the wireless area."

He emphasized "location based services" in the wireless realm. By next year, according to Bregman, it will be a requirement that cell phone operators be able to pinpoint the whereabouts of a user to within a few hundred feet. This will not only create new business models for finding services, but also for services finding customers.

One example Bregman gave was a customer using a wireless device to find the nearest pizza restaurant.

"What'll happen, is all the pizza restaurants in the area will get notified that there is a customer in the area, and they can send coupons, or decline to bother if they already have a long line," said Bregman.

IBM Corp., based in Armonk, New York, is at www.ibm.com/.

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