IBM on Monday announced hardware, software, and service initiatives for wireless commerce.
In a year that saw close to a hundred smaller companies launch wireless infrastructure services it now appears the bigger players are about to enter the fray for enterprise-level customers. According to some industry analysts the size of wireless e-commerce will reach US$100 billion by 2003.
As part of the announcement, IBM is introducing WebSphere Everyplace Suite Service Provider Edition, which effectively makes Big Blue a mobile service provider. The company will create, host, and manage wireless platforms for small to large corporations. The offering is due to be available by the end of the year.
Included in the services will be an IBM hosted wireless gateway that will support applications designed for multiple wireless networks. The gateway will enable the hosting of many networks and content designed for various proprietary gateways.
The WebSphere Everyplace service will support message queuing, synchronization, and subscriber management features. According to an IBM official, the company will be able to service as many as 5 million simultaneous subscribers.
IBM also announced eServer p640, a Unix rack mountable server based on AIX, IBM's version of Unix, which will use Big Blue's new PowerPC Power3 microprocessor. The Power3 uses copper technology for faster performance. The servers are shipping now.
For companies not looking for a hosted solution, IBM will also offer its WebSphere Everyplace Suite as a licensed product that is available now.
To gear up for its hosting services later this year, IBM officials said its 175 data centers that it operates worldwide will offer wireless services, and there are plans to open 68 more centers in the United States and Europe through a partnership with A&T, KPN Qwest, Teelcom Italia, and others.