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Bluetooth to lead the e-commerce revolution - Gartner

Analysts predict 40% of e-commerce outside US will use wireless devices

The wireless technology Bluetooth was hailed by analysts as one of the main drivers in the European adoption of e-commerce Monday.

Speaking at the GartnerGroup's European Symposium/ITxpo 99 in Cannes, analysts predicted that by 2004 a full 40 percent of e-commerce transactions outside the US will be done via portable, cellular-enabled devices. Because of the uptake of mobile devices in Europe, Gartner predicts this will enable Europe to leapfrog the US in the e-commerce revolution.

Bluetooth will play a major part that revolution.

"Bluetooth represents a completely new dimension to e-commerce which will radically change how portable and wireless devices are viewed and used," said research director of GartnerGroup Nigel Deighton. He added: "It provides endless opportunities for applications such as vending and ticketing machines, point-of-sale terminals, banking machines and parking meters." Deighton predicted that more than 75 percent of new handsets shipped in 2004 will be Bluetooth-enabled.

While the US concentrates on the PC and TV set-top boxes as the main channels for online shopping, mobile devices will take on the role in Europe according to Gartner. "Europe is close to a turning point in the way users view e-commerce and how they want to access email and information services," according to senior GartnerGroup analyst Peter Richardson.

WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) will also play a part according to Richardson who said that over 95 percent of mobile phones shipped in 2004 will be WAP-enabled and that shipments of portable Internet-enabled devices will outstrip PCs by 2003.

In a separate announcement, the race is on for the auction of spectrum licenses for third generation mobile phones. According to e-Minister Patricia Hewitt the UK will win. "We are on track to hold the first 3G spectrum auction in Europe. This will give UK consumers early access to e-commerce on the move and the many other exciting possibilities that 3G will open up," she said in a statement. 3G mobile phones will allow users to surf the Net and download e-mails, music and pictures.

The auction will take place in March 2000. Five new licences will be on offer with the biggest reserved for a new entrant. "That will boost competition," said Hewitt.

Take me to the Bluetooth special