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Home Page Editorial
(March 14, 2001)

 From Publisher and Managing Editor's Desk... 
"Cisco, Motorola, Ericsson, Nortel, Lucent, and many other giants have announced bad news about lower profits and layoff. They are blaming it on 3G delays by carriers. Carriers are blaming that consumers are buying only 500 million units instead of 550  million. However, Nokia stands out with somewhat optimistic beat - says it will increase its market share. On the other end, IBM says that it is not having any problem with marketing wireless projects. Palm is spending 360 million to buy Extended systems at a good premium. Where is the truth about wireless industry's outlook?

Is it deja vu with wireless? Will there be a repeat of many previous forecasts of the last decade that did not come true? We fully understand that no industry is immune to economic cycles.  However, PR folks, market research industry which feeds the former and the marketing VPs for the vendors must take responsibility for creating unrealistic expectations. 

To give you our crystal ball guess of where we are headed, we shall put forward the following assessment - as we see it anyway. We shall do do so in a bullet form (like most logical thinking consultants and our website subscribers think) as compared to long trade journalistic prose that suits the print media better. We know that you want us to net it out.

  1. Enterprise IT and telecommunications professionals must look at mobile computing and networking from a broader and holistic perspective, not just from the infrastructure vendor perspective. Sure, there will be a dampening of the pace at which we have hoping to grow. This will be more evident in North America and Europe than in Japan and Asia.

  2. As far as profit forecasts of wireless companies mentioned above are concerned, let us put things in perspective.  Wireless portion of the total revenue generated by these companies is not huge and is not causing all the heartburn to CFOs at these companies.  Nonetheless, wireless computing is not immune to economic downturns and this will affect the R&D expenditures on wireless initiatives at these companies. Real culprit is our expectations of continuous growth  that brokers lead us to believe. Like gullible people, we eat whatever they offer.

  3. If you are the 3G infrastructure supplier, you will not meet the projections that your market research company led you to believe because some of the carriers are postponing their 3G plans. The carriers were caught in the hype and euphoria that built unrealistic expectations. We have said so all along during last year.  It may be interesting to read our advisory in various news items during 2000. Please also read our editorial page of February 28, 2001.

  4. Carl Yankowski of Palm was right in one respect - you can develop decent mobile applications with existing networks and do much more with 2.5 GPRS (or similar networks) by building better applications and funding network bandwidth optimization techniques. Plan for 3G networks but deploy today @G applications. 

  5. Real issue is not wireless networks, 3G, or handsets, even if you are a vendor in that space.  Real issue is giving consumers and enterprises a more productive business applications and a more enjoyable gadget at an affordable price. Price should not be determined by the rate of return that your CFO has determined using aggressive criteria. You must be in it for the long haul. Remember that you built the wireless infrastructure for the long haul. Please mix modern methods with traditional and conservative thinking. 

  6. If you are a telecommunications vendor, shed your conventional voice-based circuit-switched thinking.  Think of packet-switching. Think of IP. Think computers, not telephones.  Think of multiple forms of information, including voice which might be the most important but only one of the information types.

  7. Please recognize that building mobile computing business applications is far more complex and requires a different discipline and mindset than building voice-based applications because of two simple facts.  The first one is that you do not have an intelligent human being at the other end of the cellular telephone but a computer program. The second reason is that number of combinations in which business data needs to be manipulated and programmed in mobile computing applications is hundred times more than how voice is handled. Hire and learn from the trials and tribulations of IT software professionals who have built mobile applications for the enterprise and high-performance application systems for the consumers (hundreds of thousands or even millions of users, not just thousands of them).  Combine their wisdom and discipline with your own reliability and mass customer service outlook.

  8. Create realistic expectations and manage them as you deliver service. Value of providing video on wireless has affordable value only for a small groups of users, not for everybody else. It will happen but not in two to five years - more like 7-10 years. 

  9. Globalize your efforts. Japan and Europe will move ahead of North America in 3G, and m-commerce applications. Learn by experimenting over there and then implement a modified strategy in North America when it settles down.

  10. If you are an application developer, go ahead with developing applications in the vertical space after understanding how that industry works.   You can develop applications that work both in on-line and offline modes with batch synchronization later. As future faster wireless networks come along, you can introduce more functionality and stay connected in on-line mode. In your choice of developing core product or service focus, do not be a me-too vendor or a copy-cat  Create a differentiation from the guy next door..

  11. Recognize psychology of human beings - how they adopt new ways of doing things. New Internet-savvy generation is important but they will assume an important role in due course of time. 

  12. Fundamentals of mobile and wireless computing are still very strong. Many of the forecasts will happen albeit much later. Do not give up. Just revise and tune your plans for a different date. 

  13. More next week!

Do you want to make any comments on this editorial? Send us an e-mail.

Related Resources:
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