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Thursday, 4 January, 2001, 12:29 GMT
Why Wap is not woeful BBC
Not all Wap sites are useless
By BBC News Online internet reporter Mark Ward

Apparently Wap is not rubbish after all.

The organisation developing the mobile net technology has hit back at claims that people are shunning phones that can use the wireless application protocol.

It claims that millions of people are happy using Wap and that more websites are adding Wap pages every day.

The claims of the group received support from a report by a Danish consulting group which said the technology was well positioned for the future.

Wap woes

Last week, the Wap Forum, which is directing the development of the technolgy, issued a rebuttal to a widely reported survey conducted by the influential Nielsen Norman Consulting group.

Headed by design guru Jakob Nielsen, the consulting group set out a scathing critique of Wap. Drawing on interviews with Wap users, Mr Nielsen called the technology: "insufferably bad".

But the Wap Forum took Mr Nielsen and his colleagues to task for surveying only a tiny minority of users.

"This particular report, based on only 20 users, lacks the basis on which to draw any meaningful conclusions," said the Wap Forum, adding that the Nielsen group was perpetuating "unfair and unwarranted criticisms".

The Wap Forum said the consulting group should have talked to the millions of Japanese people using Wap phones or any of the 500,000 BT Cellnet subscribers who are making use of it. Around 8m people worldwide are using Wap technology, said the Forum.

However, in the UK, many commentators have interpreted cheap Wap phones as a sign that the technology is not catching on.

Compare and contrast

Danish research firm Strand Consult added weight to the positive comments about Wap in a report that called the technology "unique".

While admitting that calling up Wap pages can be slow and that viewers are frustrated by the small screens on phones, Strand Consult said the technology should not be written off.

Strand Consult timed how long it took both a Wap phone and a PC to load a page of information from switch on to the end of the loading process and found that the phone was always faster.

But it said comparing a PC with a phone was not fair because the two are designed to serve very different needs.

"Wap will not develop into a mini-Internet, but rather into a media in its own right that offers both mobility and portability," said the report.

It should be noted that Strand Consult has investments in Wap companies.

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See also:

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