The Web is definitely going wireless, if the demonstrations at Internet World in Los Angeles are any indication.
Dozens of companies are showing off technologies that allow you to bring the Internet with you anywhere, accessed through pagers, handheld devices and cell phones. "It's the year of wireless," said Robert Murphy, vice president of marketing at CyberBills. "People will be trading over the Internet, getting information, managing their bills, everything."
Murphy's firm, like several others, wants to go beyond just showing consumers information from the Internet on their wireless devices, but also allow them to interact.
CyberBill's new service allows consumers to receive and pay their bills using a phone enabled by WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) or a Palm VII handheld device. The company's desktop service also allows consumers to view summary reports and update data to money management programs such as Quicken. The system works with both electronic bills and traditional paper bills, which are scanned into computers by the company.
Another firm offering bill-payment through wireless devices is Paytrust, which is working with Everypath to develop a system for WAP-enabled phones and Palm devices. Everypath launched a new hosting system at the Internet World show to help companies format their sites for wireless devices.
Everypath said it has signed up 32 companies so far, including Hilton Hotels, which will allow consumers to book reservations over their cell phones and Palms, as well as retailers Best Buy, Egghead.com, KBKids.com and PlanetRx.
Everypath has also signed up broker E*Trade Group, producing technology that will allow consumers to view stock quotes and make trades over wireless devices.
Almost all of the applications designed by Everypath use transactive technology, said Ron Silverton, director of strategic marketing for the company. "Part of the reason wireless is so exciting is that it increases the ability to be in touch with your customer," he said.
MyWay.com, a CMGI firm, is developing a new feature that will allow companies to send information from customised portals to consumers' cell phones and wireless devices. MyWay develops branded start pages for companies and will be launching the new service in the next month or so. Consumers can customise what data they want sent, including news and weather updates, and what type of device they want the data sent to.
RealCall, a British firm that has been operating there for four years, is launching a service in the United States that will allow people to send or receive alerts from pagers, fax machines or cell phones based on pre-set criteria. The service lets consumers monitor stock prices or online auctions. Consumers can view the message on their device, or call a contact number, which, using text-to-speech technology, will read them their information and additional data. It can also be set up to perform specific acts, such as contacting a broker.
The RealCall service can also be configured as a customer service application, notifying sales reps to call a client, for instance.
GoAmerica Communications this week launched support for Windows CE devices for its Go.web ISP service for wireless devices. The service can compress any Web page and send the data to wireless devices. It also lets consumers use their devices the way they would use any other Internet-connected computer, such as to send and receive email and make transactions. Beyond Windows CE, it supports Palm's Palm III and Palm V systems, RIM pagers, and WAP-enabled phones. Pricing starts at $9.95 per month for limited access, and runs up to $59 per month for Windows CE and RUM pagers.