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SAN MATEO (03/03/2000) - Place your bets on wireless technologyWireless technology is following a predictable hype trajectory as IT and telecommunications vendors fall over themselves to get a foothold in the "next great thing." But unlike preceding waves of technology, creative IT executives will have fewer problems selling mobile applications to the enterprise. The handheld computing explosion is well on its way -- it's just a question of harnessing that energy.

Ultimately, every company with a Web site will be using wireless transmission to communicate with business partners or consumers, but internal applications are a natural proving ground. Giving execs access to e-mail or other crucial information when they need it and in a very simple way will go a long way to dispelling the image of handhelds as high-tech toys.

The technical challenges with an internal rollout are significant: What handheld platform you choose, how wide your coverage is, and how you convert information efficiently will all be key tests.

Bandwidth constraints will be with us for some time. And although WAP (Wireless Access Protocol) and XML are fast gaining currency as key standards, a fragmented wireless network and handheld market will be the nature of the beast.

Industry vendors certainly seem to be zeroing in on the mobile Internet. Our Page One story by Dan Briody and Ephraim Schwartz details the implications of the rush to get the right partners that can fill in all the pieces of a wireless world.

This week Palm showed some great marketing flair with the partnerships it has lined up in the corporate world. But companies simply cannot dictate the target handheld device -- either inside or outside the company.

The furious deal-making belies perhaps the biggest challenge in wireless today: choosing an appropriate business model. Which vendor provides which service could change overnight. And even mainstream corporations will be entering the market themselves.

Where do you see possibilities for wireless services?

Write to me at martin_lamonica@infoworld.com.

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