Wireless Developers Need to Get Real

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2001-10-01

Now that the seeds of irrational exuberance, sown during the years of your-asinine-name-here.com, have grown into the current economic slowdown, its worth questioning whether or to what extent wireless technologies deserve a share of a corporate IT budget.

After all, companies debating whether to scale back the corporate information portal that they couldnt get their employees to visit arent likely to roll out a transcoding product just to give wireless-equipped workers another way to ignore those efforts.

In the months ahead, the success of vendors that develop and market wireless solutions will depend on their abilities to tailor their products to tackle real problems more efficiently and to deliver clear returns on investment for their clients.

Theres a small subset of people wholl try anything—at least for a while—but todays biggest wireless winners must in the future build on the activities in which workers are already engaged.

The current champs of wireless, cell phones and 802.11b networking, deliver us the phone lines and Ethernet connections across which we conduct the bulk of our businesses. Most importantly, they do so in a way that pretty well approximates what weve come to expect from our wired connections; this is why our laughably inadequate low-bandwidth wireless WAN connections continue to suffer anemic rates of usage.

Right now, one of my favorite mobile software products is the self-named Web browser for Palm OS devices from ZFrame. The ZFrame browser, which is in beta, renders standard Web pages in a shrunken form, through which users can navigate in a familiar way before zooming in on the section theyre interested in reading. In the Labs, Ive teamed ZFrame with a Palm m500 and one of Xircoms wireless LAN modules for impressive results.

Rather than force Web developers and Web browsers alike to adjust their ways for wireless, a product like ZFrame forces wireless to make way for us—a vital strategy for vendors that plan on hanging around long enough to see the fat years return.

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