Japanese standard could challenge WAP in Europe

cHTML, used by the booming i-Mode service in Japan, is set to invade Europe

The mobile Web standard used by DoCoMo, Japan's dominant mobile Internet provider, could be set to storm Europe after the launch of a Compact HTML (cHTML) gateway by British firm Logica on Friday.

This follows other news Friday suggesting that DoCoMo, which operates the popular i-Mode mobile-Internet service in Japan, could be considering a move onto the European mobile scene by partnering with TIW and Hutchison. cHTML, on which i-Mode is based, could challenge Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) for dominance in Europe.

The m-WorldGate gateway from Logica allows Web companies to supply cHTML content to mobile phones regardless of whether they are based on GSM or other underlying network technology. The standard does, however, require cHTML-compatible handsets; Logica believes that such devices will hit the European market by the end of the year.

Europe is still struggling to get to grips with WAP, but Logica believes introducing different competing standards will help accelerate overall progress towards take up of the mobile Internet.

"We made a very clear and conscious decision when launching the m-WorldPortal to make sure that it could handle a number of different mark-up languages," says Frank Eastaughffe, head of Logica's mobile Internet business. "We wanted to give mobile operators the opportunity to future-proof their mobile Internet strategy and not tie it to one particular technology."

The WAP standard has been beset by criticism for inferiority to iMode, occasional incompatibility problems and failure to colonise many handsets.

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