IBM Makes Wireless Deal

IBM Corp. will design, build and run a global wireless Internet portal for Vodafone AirTouch PLC, the world's largest mobile phone operator, the companies announced earlier this month.

The portal, which will be launched in July in Europe, North America and Australia, is based on software from the Sun-Netscape Alliance and InfoSpace.com Inc. It will give users of mobile phone and handheld devices from Nokia Corp., L.M. Ericsson Co. and Palm Inc. access to messaging and calendaring functions, in addition to travel information and financial services.

"All the carriers are going to need some help" moving into wireless data, said Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner Group Inc. in Stamford, Conn. "There's only a couple of companies that can do this kind of project." IBM is now well-positioned to win other wireless Web deals from telecommunications companies and large corporations, he said.

Several divisions at IBM are working with U.K.-based Vodafone on the project, including the 200-member pervasive computing unit.

IBM also announced a strategic relationship with Schaumburg, Ill.-based Motorola Inc. for developing wireless Web access from automobiles. On Dec. 1, IBM joined forces with Sprint PCS Group in Kansas City, Mo., to develop and test wireless business applications and services for the mobile workforce.

IBM expects that by 2003, wireless devices will outnumber PCs on the Internet.

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