Blue collars fuel wireless growth in NZ

Wireless Services are growing in New Zealand but so far it's a "blue collar" industry rather than the executive Palm Pilot market people might imagine, said wireless expert Boris Bruges.

Managing director of Wireless Data Services Bruges said wireless is increasingly being used by people like truck drivers and couriers, which affects the design of both units and software. "These are guys with big hands, in and out of trucks and vans all day, who don't want some little machine - it has to be rugged." It has to be straightforward to use, too, because the users often don't have a lot of computing experience, he said.

The big move, though, is going to be to automatic "machine-to-machine" wireless communication which removes the human from the equation altogether.

"The truck will arrive at the supermarket and the dispatcher will know it's there - know when it leaves," said Bruges. "They can use that information to show customers their service levels are as they claim. But they're often in for a surprise when they see where their drivers have been. I tell them to take a good look at the results before they show them to customers."

Machine-to-machine wireless communication is likely to be bigger than voice, he said.

Another market which Bruges is watching with interest is companies who have installed ERP systems. "They put these in place thinking they've got control of all their hardware - and then it dawns on them that all their mobile devices are still out there." A wireless network would help keep track of everything, he said.