BroadVision prepares for wireless future

Looking for a piece of the action in the red-hot wireless market, BroadVision over the next few months will add wireless capabilities to some of its electronic business software, allowing businesses to distribute information and services to a range of mobile devices, a company executive said this week.

The Redwood City, California-based company develops software that allows businesses to offer commerce, billing, banking and other services to customers over the Web. Other BroadVision products let businesses build corporate portals where workers can use the Internet to access corporate information.

BroadVision will add wireless capabilities to those applications, enabling companies and their employees to access information from devices such as mobile phones, handheld computers and other devices, said Barry Briggs, vice president and chief technology officer with BroadVision's advanced technologies group.

The company is riding a growing tide of interest in the wireless Web, which many analysts see as a booming market. BroadVision will be forced to compete against a raft of larger rivals such as OracleMobile, the wireless subsidiary of Oracle Corp., as well as smaller, more specialized players like Phone.com Inc.

The first two applications from BroadVision to be wirelessly enabled -- One-to-One Retail Commerce and One-to-One Financial -- should be ready for release in three to four months, with others to follow in the future, Briggs said. These applications will allow customers to perform tasks like shop for consumer goods, check their bank balance and transfer funds when they are on the move.

The company is also developing two technologies for One-to-One Publishing, its content management system, that will reformat data on the fly and deliver it to customers depending on their identity and what type of device they are using.

One of the technologies is a kind of "Web serving engine" that will take data stored in the XML (extensible markup language) format and convert it, using XSL (extensible stylesheet language), into the appropriate format for the device being used, Briggs said. Mobile phones, for example, use WML (wireless markup language), while handheld computers from Palm Inc. use a subset of HTML (hypertext markup language).

The other technology will allow companies to offer more "personalized" information that is location- and time-sensitive to the user. So, for example, an entertainment site could dish up information about a movie that is playing soon at a theater near to where the user is located, Briggs said. BroadVision hopes to include that capability with One-to-One Publishing by the first quarter of 2001.

"The next wave in the Web will be... the ability to filter information based not only on who the user is, what type of business rules apply, and what type of device they are using, but also more transient information, such as their current location, the time of day and so forth," Briggs predicted.

The opportunity is a global one, he said. In Japan, for example, NTT DoCoMo's wireless Internet and data service has attracted more than 8 million users since it was launched about 18 months ago, and the Japanese carrier expects to reach 10 million users by the end of this month, according to Briggs.

BroadVision acquired some of its XML technology through the acquisition in January of Interleaf Inc. for about $877 million. [See "BroadVision to Buy Interleaf for US$877 Million," Jan. 27.]BroadVision, in Redwood City, California, can be reached at +1-650-261-5100 or at http://www.broadvision.com/.

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