The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Saturday, October 05, 2002

WIRELESS INTERNET: FUTURE OR BUST?
A recent survey says that some 10 million Americans use the wireless web capabilities on their cell phones and PDAs. I'm one of them. I sprung an extra $5 a month on my cellular calling package this year for WAP-enabled surfing. I find it to be a good time-killer, although not as good as the built-in videogames in the phone. It hasn't made my life easier, although I suppose it could at some point.

I don't see how WAP is a high-growth medium. Unlike the convention Internet, you really can't place any advertising into this format, as the screens and the devices are too small. Plus, people simply don't surf on their phones like they do at home, for obvious reasons: it kills the battery life (thus decreasing the utility of the device, especially phones which are primarily needed for calls), and mobile web use is best used for quick, direct information retrieval rather than idle browsing. Until the industry can figure out how to convince the U.S. market around these basic limitations, I can't see it taking off.

It might not take off much further anywhere else, either. Seems that consumers in Europe and Japan, who are usually ahead of the curve, aren't biting on the new 3G devices and services. Even if they did, they wouldn't get any more benefit from them than they do with their current services.