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Wrap it up with WAP

by Stephanie IzarekIf Motorola and other wireless vendors have their way, consumers well-versed in dot-com lingo will soonbe hit with a new term: m-commerce.That's mobile commerce, an e-commerce shopping model in which the cell phone and PDA replace the PC.

by Stephanie Izarek

If Motorola and other wireless vendors have their way, consumers well-versed in dot-com lingo will soon be hit with a new term: m-commerce.

That's mobile commerce, an e-commerce shopping model in which the cell phone and PDA replace the PC. The new standard for accessing Internet content from phones is called Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), and according to the WAP Forum, it will be installed in most digital phones within two years.

That means consumers will want access to m-commerce quickly, says Patrick McQuown, president of Proteus, an Internet development and consulting agency.

"Bleeding-edge companies will have to look to new technologies to retain advantage," he says. "They must meet the customer wherever the customer wants to see information."

Motorola is leading the charge with its new WAP-enabled Timeport phone line. The phone maker will also develop custom WAP-enabled Web sites, led by MyTimeport.com, which lets users access stored information, e-mail, and Internet sites.

Another company, BarPoint.com, will add software to cell phones that lets you search for product information and comparative pricing by entering an item's bar code number. Similarly, IQorder.com will offer a service that connects consumers to its database of merchants through WAP minibrowser-enabled cell phones, PDAs (both Windows CE and Palm platforms), two-way pagers, and standard PCs. IQorder.com's service, due this summer, will let you search for items by most any variable, then "shop" for the best price and availability.

Oracle Corp. has announced its own WAP-enabled portal, OracleMobile. It's based on Oracle's Portal-to-Go technology and offers services from popular sites such as Amazon.com, eBay, ETrade, and MapQuest.com.