The Open Group Will Boost Wireless Standards

SAN MATEO (04/18/2000) - The plan announced last week by Ericsson Inc., Motorola Inc., and Nokia Corp. to jointly develop an open framework for secure mobile electronic transactions may not only boost the wireless e-commerce market but also increase access providers' clout in the e-commerce space.

The three vendors have been developing their own proprietary wireless payment-security platforms with banks and credit card companies. Using emerging and existing standards, including WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) security functions such as WTLS (Wireless Transport Layer Security), WIM (Wireless Identification Module), and wireless PKI (public key infrastructure) technologies, the vendors said they will work with the telecommunications, financial, and IT industries to build a common framework that integrates security and payment services into mobile devices, such as cellular phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants).

The trio plans to put technical details about the project on their Web sites this May, and to formulate the framework before the summer, based on the feedback that they get.

Rob Enderle, an analyst at Giga Information Group, in San Jose, California, believes the plan could mean that some revenues will shift from one class of vendor to another.

"This enables ... a way that people can spend money more easily. And when that happens, that tends to drive much more sales ... to different kinds of vendors.

In this case, the transaction, instead of going through a Visa or a MasterCard ... would go through one of the telephony providers," Enderle said. Observers also noted that this could lead to carriers giving away PDAs bundled with Internet access.

The announcement of the joint effort came a day after Motorola joined The Open Group as a platinum sponsor. While the three wireless telecommunications giants are creating a standard framework, The Open Group is concerned with providing interoperability between existing standards.

"Motorola is working with The Open Group on interoperability to give the consumer the power to communicate at home, in the car, or in the office," said Michele Drgon, director of standards at Motorola.

L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co., in Stockholm, Sweden, is at www.ericsson.com.

Nokia Corp., in Espoo, Finland, is at www.nokia.com. Motorola Inc, in Schaumburg, Ill., is at www.motorola.com.

Gartner evangleizes wireless

Calling wireless technologies the "second coming of the Internet," industry luminaries predicted last week at the Gartner Group's Spring Symposium/ITxpo 2000 in San Diego that although wireless devices are proliferating they will not displace PCs.

"The notebook especially has its place, particularly in productivity," said Paul Chellgren, Nokia's vice president of business development. "What we'll see is evolution from the PC down." He also noted that no single device will dominate but that different devices will continue to be used for different applications and situations.

Gartner analysts made a slew of wireless predictions last week, stating that Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE will be strongest in the industrial sector, while the Palm OS will be used for white-collar applications; that 70 percent of PDAs (personal digital assistants) will be free or subsidized by 2004; and that the Bluetooth wireless connectivity standard will be widely adopted by 2002.

"Bluetooth [is important because] it offers a lot of choices for both consumers and business customers," said Jay Highley, vice president of Sprint's business customer unit.

Another focus was on the need for a global wireless data standard, and Chellgren commented that the United States could learn from Europe's standardization of the Global System for Mobile communications. He added that U.S. vendors will face the challenge of staying competitive while working toward standardization.

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