Lotusphere: Nokia, Lotus work on wireless apps

With much fanfare but not much content, Lotus Development and Europe's top mobile phone company, Nokia, announced here that they are working together to develop wireless corporate Intranet applications.

Such an alliance will enable users to access Notes applications from a mobile phone or other devices compliant with the WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) protocol, Nokia and Lotus officials said yesterday. WAP is a protocol that enables users to access Internet and Intranet-based content from their mobile phones.

Specifically, that means Nokia and Lotus will work to integrate Nokia's WAP server with the Lotus Domino server. The companies said that it was by no means an exclusive arrangement.

On Wednesday, however, Lotus introduced Mobile Services for Domino 1.0, a $US3,999-per-server add-on to Domino that will allow users to send and receive messages from mobile devices including pagers and cellular phones. Mobile Services for Domino will support the emerging WAP standard.

One main focus of the alliance will be how to improve the integration between all the components needed to deliver WAP-based services, in order to shorten the download times over WAP phones, said Pertti Lounamaa, vice president with Nokia Wireless Software Solutions.

Delivery times over WAP phones are relatively slow now but the goal is to reduce the time to under five seconds, he said. The reason is there are so many links in the process of tapping into corporate applications, according to Lounamaa. Information has to move from mainframe computers, to application servers, then to the WAP server, through the cellular telephone infrastructure and finally to the microbrowser installed on a WAP phone or other device.

Nonetheless, Lounamaa believes that more than 500 million such WAP browsers will be in use worldwide by 2003.

"This will be the most widely-used browser in the world in one, two or three years from now, by a wide margin," he predicted, far surpassing Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser.

Nokia also earlier this month announced a strategic WAP relationship with Lotus parent company IBM.

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