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Geldof, Sky boost WAP choice

Can Saint Bob's WapWorld save the fledgling standard

Bob Geldof's WapWorld, the UK's first commercial independent WAP portal, coupled with a content deal between Sky and BT Cellnet announced Wednesday could, according to observers herald a dramatic increase in the choice of WAP content.

WapWorld is a joint venture between Bob Geldof's Amicus Digital media company, Brian Moore's content partnership company and new media company Jingo Communications. The portal will offer WAP handset owners free content including news, weather, horoscopes and jokes.

Declan Lonergan, director of wireless services at Strategy Analytics, believes such partnerships will be crucial for the success of mobile content providers. "When you switch on a handheld device, what's staring you in the face is crucial," he says. "This deal will make the portal 'sticky', then customers will continue to use it and content will be attracted to it."

In its deal with Cellnet, BSkyB confirmed it is in advanced stages of negotiation to provide Sky content to Cellnet's WAP customers including news and regular real time updates and scores from major sports events.

Despite the hype surrounding WAP, analysts are concerned that the lack of compelling WAP content is hindering the mass take-up of the standard. Tim Sheedy, senior analyst with IDC, believes the entry of major content providers is "seriously important going forward". He believes that, to date, most of the driving force behind WAP has come from hardware manufacturers, which have created a consumer expectancy unfulfilled by the dearth of WAP content available.

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