European firms warm to WAP

A quarter of European companies have rolled out WAP services, and others should follow their lead

Nearly a quarter of European businesses currently deploy WAP services and another nine percent are planning to do so within the next 12 months, according to analyst firm IDC.

Speaking at the firm's Telecoms Forum in Rome yesterday, IDC analyst Tim Sheedy described those who write off m-commerce as "fools".

Speaking at the conference, Sheedy rushed to the defence of WAP which, he said, has been the victim of unfair criticism. While other analysts have predicted the death of m-commerce before it has even been launched, Sheedy is more optimistic. He predicts m-commerce will be worth $30bn (£21bn) by 2004. Moreover, a third of mobile users -- around 114 million of them -- will be connecting to the mobile Internet by this time.

Banking is likely to become the most ubiquitous m-commerce service, with MP3 rapidly becoming the sexy killer app. "Anyone not looking at this market is a fool," Sheedy asserted, adding that m-commerce will more than pay off the huge 3G debts telcos have recently accumulated.

And WAP, the mobile industry's whipping boy in recent months, could well be about to come into its own. While pundits look to Japan's hugely successful i-mode service as Europe's mobile saviour, Sheedy said WAP could just as easily fill that role.

According to IDC, nearly a quarter of European businesses currently deploy WAP services and another nine percent are planning to do so within the next 12 months.

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