El.pub Analytic Issue Number 4
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Contents: The problem with WAP is... | Does usability testing hold the answers? | The mobile network - revising the promises | Mobile information services can succeed | Wireless solutions are being adopted | Powerful mobile computing devices hold the key | WAP viability hindered by lack of usability
Many commentators suppose that the limitations of WAP will be overcome. Better (usability informed) design will prevail. The speed problems will go away soon with GPRS and UMTS. Screens will get bigger and better and larger handhelds, with some sort of stylus or keyboard, will solve date entry problems.
However, in the medium term (5 years) this is far from clear. GPRS and UMTS rollout is slowing and in some cases moving into the further future. Early results of GPRS show that it only achieves 20 - 40 kbs rather than the 140 kbs promised not long ago. (see weblink 8) The UMTS providers, like the DSL and cable operators, are coming clean on the real speeds they intend to make available and are getting down to the 300kbs range.
As far as design goes, it is worth noting that most of the experts cited have pointed to the long time it took for web design to learn the lessons of usability. Why should the WAP community be any different?
A further problem that is less evident is that WAP is only one of several protocols for delivering visual material to the phone, with the main alternatives being c-HTML (for I-mode) in Asia and HDML in the US. If, on the other hand, more powerful handhelds are the answer, then the natural solution would be the use of plain HTML / XML.
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