By Theodore Durst
Although, I've been involved with ZATZ since the early, "let's publish a cool magazine about the Palm OS" stage, I'm usually far more active behind the scenes. Recently, an opportunity to cover the Internet World Wireless 2001 show in New York City presented itself. Since I've been pushing for more coverage of emerging technology markets, I got to play cub reporter for a day.
"Here's the scoop, 'Wireless is Cool!'"
Here's the scoop, "Wireless is Cool!" As my tour through the exhibit hall showed, developers are now beyond the gee-wiz novelty and are focusing on applications, which might just solve business problems, turn a profit, and keep the venture capitalists happy. So rather than run down the list of who was there and who wore an ugly tie, I'll play futurist for a while and talk about what caught my attention.
Wireless is growing up!
At the moment, it's all a "vision thing." The Palm OS is still the most prevalent platform for mobile computing. However, there are strong challengers such as Microsoft's Windows CE platform. WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) devices were a heavy presence. However, there was more of an emphasis on mobile content and how to distribute it to users of existing mobile devices. That's just it, while there are tons of portable devices in circulation, there's no standard platform for wireless content just yet. So, the problem everyone is facing and most exhibitors professed to solve was the translation of HTML content to the various mobile device platforms.
I spoke for a while with the folks at Brience (at http://www.brience.com), an enterprise software provider focusing on this problem with an interesting pitch. They provide software which not only translates content based on the mobile device platform, but also does some neat things like prioritize requests based on network load and device platform. Since they sell software rather than operate an ASP (Application Service Provider), they're hoping to be seen as a better fit for enterprise customers who are concerned about their data traveling through a third party's service. Currently, Ingram Micro (at http://www.ingrammicro.com) and BarPoint (at http://www.barpoint.com) are two of the companies using Brience to extend their enterprises to wireless platforms.
UK-based Roundpoint (at http://www.roundpoint.com) is offering a solution to content providers wishing to reach users of mobile devices. They're focusing on Web publications such as newspapers and magazines. Their ASP not only formats for the Palm OS and other device platforms, but it also provides some nifty browser capabilities such as automatic scrolling and summarization.