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European IT Forum: WAP needs lessons from i-mode

WAP must learn from i-mode, but should still survive the challenge from the East if it can find a better way of rewarding applications developers

Don't back i-mode to beat WAP in Europe is the unequivocal message from industry analyst IDC at the European IT Forum in Monte Carlo Tuesday.

Senior Research Analyst for Wireless and Mobile Telecommunications, Tim Sheedy, tells delegates that although the leading Japanese mobile telecommunications service has a lot to offer in terms of content and services, technical barriers will prevent its widespread adoption across Western Europe.

"Only one of the GSM manufacturers supports i-mode and that's Nokia with the i-mode phone they sell in Japan...there isn't that much stuff in cHTML mode, most of it is written in Japanese".

Sheedy believes the WAP world has a lot to learn from the content and services being offered now on i-mode in Japan. Illustrating the point, he drew attention to the "fantastic games [being played on i-mode mobiles] that nobody would ever have dreamed about, that are all making millions of dollars each month."

In defence of WAP, Sheedy says "WAP does what it promises. It delivers information to a mobile phone across a 9.6Kbps mobile data network. That's what it was always designed to do, and that's what it does do".

In order for WAP developers to do a better job on content and services in Europe, Sheedy argues there will have to be "a big shift in the revenue model in Western Europe". Again, he says lessons are to be learned from i-mode.

"If you make a good i-mode application you'll make two million dollars out of it, you'll grow your company, you'll make more i-mode applications". By contrast, WAP content sites "are the same that have been around for six months. There are just more WML pages happening, but there aren't any more interactive services. The reason for that is the developers aren't making any money and they have to feed their children too."

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