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The Net Will be the Driving Force
Posted: 20-Jan-2000 [Source: ZDnet]

[Some interesting reflections on just where these "wireless wonders" are going.]

PCWeek -- "While many questions remain regarding IT's destiny, the one thing that is certain about the future is that wireless technology will take a prominent role.

"At Starbucks Coffee Co., which has 30,000 employees in stores throughout the country, wireless technology will become increasingly important. The company already uses wireless registers during busy holidays. In this setup, IBM PCs that rely on radio frequency technology communicate with a manager's workstation, which is another IBM PC configured as a server.

"In addition, the company is evaluating WAP as a way to get more cell phones and other handheld devices to access business applications via an Internet connection.

"Cell phones and handhelds will probably not replace PCs -- which industry observers say will likely evolve into more of a "WebTop" controlled by a back-end server -- but these wireless clients will get more sophisticated and more numerous (see graphic, below). By 2001, many cell phones will have an LCD screen that supports 256 colors, and they will be able to display about six lines of text. Today, most phones support four lines of text and black-and-white graphics. In addition, by the year 2005, wireless connections will reach 1M bps vs. the existing 14.4K bps, according to Ben Linder, vice president of marketing at Phone.com Inc., in Redwood City, Calif., which, together with Nokia Corp., Erics son Inc. and Motorola Inc., formed the WAP de facto standard.

"Even with the bandwidth improvements that will be available to the wireless client, Linder said it's important to note that fixed broadband bandwidth will be increasing exponentially as well. That means what you will be able to do with a phone will not compare with the types of applications that will be available at the desktop. "It's important to realize what phones are and are not. A phone is not a tool for surfing; it is a tool for addressing things you know you need," Linder said. "E-mail is a great example. I'm not going to write a three-paragraph e-mail on the phone, but I can use it to screen e-mails coming into my in-box, spot the urgent ones and reply by making a phone call."

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