wap backlash part deux. in this installment uidesign takes a more balanced approach and serves up the idea that the problems with wap have as much to do with the fundamentals of what people can and want to do with the phone than with wap per se :

“The knives are out for WAP technology. Following the huge hype of the last 12 months, it’s becoming apparent that it just isn’t delivering. Naturally, the naysayers have now become the “told-you-so-ers”. However, the disappointment of WAP technology needs some more careful analysis. The industry deserves a good wrap on the knuckles. Much of what has happened was avoidable. Will the lessons be learned?”

“The biggest single mistake was to take the view that an internet enabled phone is a general purpose device. It was an easy mistake to make. A computer with web browser was a general purpose device. You can use it to surf any web site. A phone is also a general purpose device. You can use it to call any number. However, when you put the two together, the combination is limited. To be completely general
purpose it would need to have a keyboard, a full size screen and a phone transceiver built in together. It would need to be both a computer and a phone, i.e. a laptop with a phone built in. Current WAP Phones are still phones, but they are NOT computers in the sense of a PC. This was the first mistake – marketing the device as if it was a computer.

A WAP Phone is an “invisible computer” or it ought to be. A WAP Phone thought of as an invisible computer, becomes an information appliance. Furthermore, each different form factor of WAP Phone is a different information appliance. The whole industry failed to realize this. Information appliances should be designed for a specific purpose or a limited set of purposes. In other words, with current technology,
the “walled garden” approach was correct providing what was inside the garden made sense for the specific information appliance, as a single product.

The purposes to which a WAP phone can be put is somewhat controlled by the modality of the device. For example, a 4 line display is very different from an 8 or 12 line display. A 2K deck size is very different from an 8K deck size. As the devices change and grow more powerful the range of tasks to which they are suitable grows larger. Identifying and developing such compelling uses for the small screens was
always going to be difficult.”

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