“WAP has all the answers for what we term at Dialogue as ‘Browse and Buy’ and mobile content delivery is moving this way very quickly. There was a lot of hype around WAP when it was first introduced and like many new, ‘sensational’ technologies, it failed to deliver at the start, when it was really ahead of its time,” said Mr Griffiths.
“But WAP is back big-time and it should now become the vehicle by which Browse and Buy truly delivers – for the benefits of all concerned – from users to operators and everyone in between.”
Poor user experiences, high latency and low data rates were some of the factors behind WAP’s negative start but WAP usage in the UK has now topped two billion page impressions each month. Mr Griffiths told the audience that this was due to several factors, including:
- High resolution colour screens with faster data rates had improved the customer experience
- Using WAP push to send URLs to phones was accepted and had overcome the barrier of keying in addresses and now took users directly to exciting content
- MP3 and video clip file demand, driven by new features in phones, had necessitated the use of WAP and overcome any resistance to it
- Mobile operators are introducing mobile payment systems for single click payment through WAP browsers
Another key factor happening this year would be the rolling out of services by mobile operators to ‘trusted’ third parties to create portals. Dialogue, which is one of the market leaders in mobile messaging, had already achieved this status and as such it can offer its customers all the WAP advantages so far limited only to operators. These include knowing the identity of the user automatically, single click billing and lower data rate charges.
“Opening up the market is good news because the user experience is made much more simple and enjoyable and the operators have demonstrated great judgement here because increased sales – whoever they are from and to – means greater use of the network and improved ARPU is what all the operators are looking for,” said Mr Griffiths.
“But with this freedom to operate comes responsibility and adherence to standards. This is critical to making sure the customer experience does not lesson and anyone attaining ‘trusted’ status must be totally committed to supporting such standards.”
Mr Griffiths also told the conference that he expected SMS to stay a strong part of the market for several years to come. When content remained as text – with goal alerts in soccer matches for example – SMS would be a good solution, although WAP was clearly the vehicle for the advanced, converged, multimedia world now upon the market.
“SMS has been a true hero of our market for many years,” said Mr Griffiths.
“SMS has been developed further than anyone first imagined when the possibility of sending messages was first thought of many years ago and it remains today a key revenue earner. That will stay the same for the time being but I suspect that many of us here today owe a lot to SMS and what it has provided for us all.”