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Wireless Application Protocol - WAP

WAP Applications

“At first, the most popular mobile Internet service is likely to be e-mail. SMS (short message service) messages have proved a big success in the Nordic nations and volumes are growing rapidly throughout western Europe”

One of the most significant advantages of Internet access from mobile rather that your PC is the ability to instantly identify users geographic location. This opens up a huge opportunity for highly customized services.

As Ericsson puts it,

“the content providers will know where their users are geographically and will be able to direct them to specific destinations - restaurants or theaters, for example handheld devices are mobile, but their position is instantly identifiable. So think of content that knows where the user is, and offers content tailored to that geography. Weather forecasts, restaurant locations (with table availability and instant reservations fast food delivery, finding and booking a plumber, dating services (with pre-recorded video profiles and e-mail or voicemail exchanges) any service where physical proximity is important can migrate a vital part of its value-added to the new devices.”

Some of the interesting applications of WAP (already existing or being worked on) are:

  • Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) and Nokia are working with a Finnish fashion retailer who plans to send clothing offers direct to mobile telephones using a combination of cursors, touch screen technology and WAP to allow would-be shoppers to hot-link to order-entry pages on the web.
  • In Finland, children already play new versions of competitive games such as "Battleships", via the cellular networks. In the music world, Virgin Mobile in the UK offers to download the latest pop hits to customers in a daily offering.
  • Scala has developed several WAP products for small to medium-sized companies which would allow, for example, a field sales force to access customer order information and stock availability details via a WAP handset.
  • A key growth area for the technology will be business-to-workforce, with companies using WAP applications to reach employees at any time. Scala is currently working on time-sheet applications and techniques for entering and filing expense claims via the mobile phone.

  • Nokia says applications that will benefit from WAP include customer care and provisioning, message notification and call management, e-mail, mapping and location services, weather and traffic alerts, sports and financial services, address book and directory services and corporate intranet applications.

As brought out by [1] and the examples above WAP services are currently limited to simple information services, but as higher speeds become available and some of the technical issues specific to WAP are resolved, several new service types will emerge, including:

  • Infotainment : They could include weather forecasts, stock quotes, horoscopes and news

  • Messaging : services such as e-mail, voicemail and unified messaging

  • Personal information management : services such as call management and personal directories, which enable the modification of personal information

  • Financial services : mobile banking and mobile e-commerce services

  • Location-based services : services that are dependent on location include mapping and vehicle location information

The table below should give an idea about the kind of services being offered by operators around the world. 


Examples of the current services offered


France Telecom

Cinema information, share prices and some banking services

KPN Telecom, The Netherlands

Movie information, hotel information and news

Omnitel, Italy

News, flight information, lottery information and movie listings

Optus, Australia

Share prices, news, weather forecasts and e-mail

Orange, UK

Cinema information, last minute offers (via lastminute.com), news and business directories

SmarTone, Hong Kong

News, e-mail, SmarTone WAP portal, language translation and directories

Sonera, Finland

Information services, e-mail, directories and financial data

Sprint, US

News, share prices, mapping, weather forecasts, directories and e-mail 

Telefonica Moviles, Spain

News, traffic updates, some banking transactions, directories and e-mail

Source: Ovum (WAP Market Strategies/B) 

The Problem areas
One of the problem, basically to do with infrastructure (and not WAP)  is that as the mobile Internet access, thanks to WAP, increases it is likely to put ever greater demands on existing technology infrastructures as it encourages higher m-commerce volumes. A live example is I-mode services in Japan, where the mobile data access has seen a unprecedented rate of growth. So, unless the infrastructure is geared up to expect unexpected volumes, this can have significant impact on these data services since most of these systems are simply inadequate for big volumes. So there is a possibility of unsatisfactory performances observed by mobile data users.

Another problem area is that the delay in the delivery of long-promised terminals and service launches are narrowing the window of opportunity for WAP, while the proposed developments in faster mobile networks and more sophisticated terminals come closer. Further developments in WAP are still required and in the meantime, other solutions will emerge.

Also as with many other technologies what matters most and what guides the development of a technology is the emergence of “killer applications”. So, unless some killer applications hit the market, which influence the mood of the enduser, WAP just like other technologies has a difficult path ahead. Already due to lots of hype WAP proponents find them selves in a little tight position. So, this presents a big opportunity for the developer community to develop new and innovative applications that can realize the advantage of WAP. There is going to be big appetite for WAP applications in the very near future. 

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