AOL aims for mobile dominance

Steve Case is going to be in your hand, in your pocket... Anywhere he can

AOL Anywhere may have just landed with the World's largest ISP inking deals with Ericsson, Nokia and RTS Wireless, to spread the word according to Steve Case and Co.

AOL will work with telecommunications giants Ericsson and Nokia in developing interactive content and services based on AOL's WAP solutions. The first trials of wireless AOL services, including mail, news and stock quotes, will begin in Europe by the end of the month.

Perhaps flexing its growing muscles in the WAP arena, AOL also announced it is to play an "active role" in the WAP Forum.

Chris Hill, European vice president of corporate development at AOL, confirms the explosion of the mobile Internet meant that AOL Anywhere is on its way. "We are actively working on the technology and partnerships to make services available to users whatever handset they have," he says.

An IDC report published Monday predicts that by 2002 US sales of Internet appliances will reach 25 million units, a market worth that will be worth $17.8bn, overtaking sales of PCs by 2 million. It is therefore vital for content providers to ensure their online content seamlessly extends to the new range of mobile Internet devices. Yahoo on Thursday signed an agreement with Siemens whereby the manufacturer would build direct access to WAP content from Yahoo into its mobile products.

Tim Sheedy, senior analyst with IDC believes that partnerships between technology companies and content providers are vital in driving the uptake of WAP services. Although the GSM Congress in Cannes last week was full of announcements from hardware manufacturers there was little focus on content, says Sheedy. The mass of content that AOL can bring to WAP users means that AOL is "going to be a really serious player going forward," states Sheedy.

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