Recent criticism of Wap is well founded, according to research company IDC, which says the services are not easy to use and many are not useful.
Speaking at the IDC European IT Forum in Monte Carlo today, senior IDC analyst Tim Sheedy said Wap has been hyped up by manufacturers.
However, he did give Wap some credit. "It has support like no other new technology. Also, what else is there? Some people have suggested the Japanese technology iMode, but this will not be a huge factor in Western Europe. For a start, only one manufacturer [Nokia] supports it."
Sheedy predicts that the Wap market will grow from seven million users this year in Western Europe, to 50 million users in the region by 2004.
But he warns that this growth will be slow to begin with. "The biggest example of this is that Nokia's new handset - the 3310 - the one it is using to replace one of its most popular models today, does not have Wap on it. This is one of the most telling things that shows Wap is not going to take off quickly," said Sheedy.
"The real key to the future of high-speed mobile data and Wap will be the applications they enable. Without the applications there is no need for the high-speed data or Wap. A lot of work needs to be done on development of these."
Sheedy said most Wap applications will be focused at the consumer, offering gaming, location-based services, m-commerce and email. Business applications will include internet access, database queries, extranet access and email.
"Very few Wap sites currently answer a need for users or are easy to use," he added.
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