Why WAP isn't - as bad as people sayWritten by Mike Street
It's unlucky that acronym for Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) has such an unfortunate rhyme! Even more unlucky for WAP, it burst onto mobile communication scene with lavish promises from Mobile Operators (you know who you are) of 'The Internet on your Mobile' and 'Take Internet with you'.
That really was a load of WAP.
So, a few years on we can ask, like Frankie Goes to Hollywood, 'WAP, what is it good for'?
More than you might think, given current deafening silence from those same Mobile Operators.
The rise (and rise) of SMS is instructive. This has gone from nowhere to everywhere with practically no promotion from networks. Type SMS into Google and you get 52 million hits! In China in 2003, 220 Billion SMS messages were sent. During 2003 in UK alone, 30 Billion were sent, which equates to 500 for every man, woman and child in entire country! What is going on here?
Well SMS is cheap, not cheap enough perhaps but, up until a couple of years ago, much cheaper than calling. So it was a viable alternative to making a mobile phone call, everyone could send and receive them, and it didn't matter what handset you used or what network you were on (or even which country you were in).
Much same is true of WAP. Most handsets sold this century in GSM markets are compatible. Costs, especially using GPRS, are very low, as long as information is optimised for handset. Actually, it costs less to read your email with GPRS than to send an SMS. How times change!
And people are using it, too. In UK in December 2003, number of WAP pages viewed was over 1 billion for first time. The Mobile Data Association (MDA) forecasts 13 billion for 2004 as a whole, up from 9.2 billion in 2003 (against an original MDA forecast for 2003 of 8 billion).
All this is in face of complete indifference, if not outright hostility, from networks. The problem for them is that, as mentioned, WAP is cheap. You can get all mobile email you need via WAP to your handset for around one tenth of cost of a RIM Blackberry data subscription. And please don't ask how much running costs are of a laptop mobile data card! A while ago, one of my colleagues used more data in a month than cost of mobile data card itself. Since then networks have introduced more reasonable price bands, but he now gets all email he needs on his cellular phone via WAP for one hundredth amount spent during those expensive 30 days. And he doesn't need to carry a laptop around with him, wait for it boot, wait again for it to download mail, and balance it on one hand whilst holding his coffee with other and his mobile phone in a third!
A Privacy TreatiseWritten by Kathleen Pierz
A Privacy Treatise The message is out - consumers have clear and growing expectations when it comes to privacy they expect and ultimately demand for their personal contact information. Telecommunications organizations that ignore this need for privacy do so at their own peril. Those who listen and meet, or better yet, exceed consumers’ expectations, will ultimately win in marketplace. Privacy is what your customer says it is – independent of regulation, laws and contract language.
Based on recent market occurrences, changes in regulation, carrier pronouncements and results from several national consumer-level surveys, trend is clear: privacy matters!
Unmistakable messages from marketplace:
In Zelos Group’s National Wireless Usage Study, only 2 percent of US consumers indicated that they would list their wireless telephone number without any type of privacy and/or call screening in place. In this same study, 51 percent of that same sample and 69 percent of 13 to 24 year olds within study are willing list their mobile number IF they had guaranteed privacy protection and/or defined call screening procedures 41% of US consumers subscriber to a caller ID service; 57% of 18-24 year-olds subscriber to a caller ID service. Over 20 percent of all fixed line phone numbers and 98% of wireless numbers are unlisted in US. This number exceeds 40 percent for Arizona and Alaska and approaches 50 percent in large cities. Over 51 Million numbers in US were registered on national Do-Not-Call registry. This is over 50 percent of residential phone numbers, all prior to lists’ October 2, 2003 implementation. The US market has never seen a more clear indication that consumers are feed up with unwelcome commercial contacts. 88 percent of wireless subscribers said that their number one reason for not lisingt their mobile number would be to avoid telemarketing calls.
The Current Model is Broken The current model for being “listed / not listed” is no longer viable for today’s consumers in today’s technologically dynamic environment. The number of ways we can be contacted is growing: (listing all your personal and professional phones, emails, IM addresses, SMS, Push to Talk (PTT) physical addresses, etc, this list exceeds 15 to 20 for most of us) our technological capabilities seems to have at least temporarily exceeded regulatory, not to mention social and ethical, development in area of communications. It is now possible for almost anyone to locate and communicate with most of us anytime, anywhere. In US market, combination of relentless tele-marketing campaigns and poor personal manners has nearly converted this communications convenience into a bane within modern society.
Consumer backlash to this growing erosion of personal privacy is becoming increasingly apparent. Marketers, telcos and database aggregators have not, to date, met consumer privacy needs or expectations. Newly introduced and highly restrictive regulation in EU, inability to successfully introduce wireless numbers to a directory database (anywhere they had not been part of a database from introduction of mobile phones) and growing public ire are fruits of this collective inability to address consumer expectations.