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Home Page Editorial
(March 25, 2001)

From Publisher and Managing Editor's Desk...

What Did CTIA in Las Vegas, GSM Congress in Paris, France and CeBit in Hanover, Germany Tell Us?  Three major industry events have taken place during the last few weeks - CTIA in Las Vegas in U.S., GSM Congress in Cannes France and CeBit in Hanover Germany.  While the first two were specific to our industry, the third event was about IT in general. Do these events tell us where the industry is going? Is the number of exhibitors any indication of ultimate success that we would achieve in making wireless mainstream? Are the keynotes truthful representation of how the companies are internally addressing the needs of the company. These are perplexing questions that have different answers depending on who you ask.

Can MobileInfo.Com provide any greater wisdom than what some of the smartest executives and spokespersons of the industry are telling us? Do we have a viewpoint that can round things off in planning for the wireless future? We may not have greater wisdom but we do have a viewpoint that represents implementers of enterprise solutions. So here are our views:

  1. First of all, industry events have one focal objective - to drum up enthusiasm for emerging technologies and products of the vendor community. In that respect, these conferences and technology expositions serve a very important purpose. While there may have been slight pragmatism in CTIA as well at the GSM congress this year, general enthusiasm has matured but not waned much. Rightly so. We agree that the industry has strong fundamental strengths and a bright long term future. So the show must go on. But vendors must provide a realistic time table so that the enterprise IT professionals can develop a sound strategy.

  2. It is unfortunate that dynamics of stock markets and investors inter-connected globally through the Internet are directing the directions of every industry more than the collective wisdom of business executives. Business planners are being forced to tune into and pay attention to the unrealistic expectations of super-fast growth economics of investment bankers and brokers who are exploiting the psychology of the fickle-minded investors. It is not unlike the situation that will ensue if governments were forced to govern on the basis of electronic voting on every issue, thereby replacing the wisdom of elected officials. In this respect, we expect many worthwhile startups to suffer an early death in the name of rationalization. Creativity could suffer and mediocrity of large corporations could prevail if this persisted. We suggest that startups should be more realistic in their business plans realizing that emerging technology will be accepted only if it improves productivity, adds value or gives greater enjoyment to consumers and businesses.

  3. If you represent an enterprise embarking on wireless solutions, please do not accept all the claims made by marketing and PR folks at their face value. Go underneath the cover. Analyze products using conventional discipline. Web sites information and marketing pitches need to be backed by facts and figures. Wireless computing is indeed quite complex. 

  4. There were many outstanding products exhibited at these events. Both 2.5 G and 3G handsets were shown doing their tricks in hypothetical environments. Multi-media and streaming video were shown on GPRS. What they did not answer, however, was the key question - what is the price and time of delivering these products and services in a reliable form. Remember that conferences and expositions represent only the first step in introducing new technology. Now the application developers and systems integrators should take over and tell us how they can improve the business processes or consumer's personal lives.

  5. There was more talk of wireless portals, location-specific applications and m-commerce than there was of critical business applications that were waiting to be mobile-enabled.

  6. If you are a an infrastructure vendor (Ericsson, Lucent or Motorola), you should listen more to your long term strategists than to the folks in  investor relations. While we do not advocate wasteful R&D, we suggest that you should continue to invest in your future. Divert a part of marketing & PR funds to creating winning products. We were told that a major handset manufacturer did not want to incorporate a three dollar UPC scanner because it would inflate the price of the handset to a number that market would not bear. We do not understand this. We are convinced that vendors have to offer higher margins to their dealers if they have an inferior product and lower functionality.

  7. If you are a vendor producing products and services around wireless, go ahead at full speed developing vertical B2B applications. For m-commerce, location-specific and  wireless advertising, have a longer horizon to reach break even point.  

  8. If you are an enterprise IT professional, do not delay any of your projects just because market is softening. You can build sound business cases for wireless/mobile projects with today's devices, today's 2G networks and current coverage maps in many cases  We hear of hundreds of real-life worthwhile wireless implementations every month. You just have to think smart, design smart and be selective in choosing your wireless applications.  Do not just move desktop applications on to wireless handheld devices by content adaptation software that does not recognize the limitations.  Make the applications mobile-aware.  Effort and cost are worth it. Tomorrow's devices will be better, infrastructure more widespread and applications that match industrial-strength reliability.

  9. Finally, we must tell the network vendor that this industry is not just about 3G and handsets. It is about business applications, productivity improvements and empowering the mobile worker with business information. To do this, you need more than the wireless network and devices. 

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

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