WEEKLY WEB WATCH: Taking the World Wide Web for a walk: the step up to wireless

The Internet is about to change everything. Again. This time it’s not the World Wide Web but the long awaited ’Wireless Web.’ It’s here at last. Honest.

The Internet is about to change everything. Again. This time it’s not the World Wide Web but the long awaited ’Wireless Web.’ It’s here at last. Honest.

The Internet is about to change everything. Again. This time it’s

not the World Wide Web but the long awaited ’Wireless Web.’ It’s here at

last. Honest.



In December Amazon announced a deal with Sprint PCS to enable users of

Sprint’s mobile phone service to shop from Amazon while on the move.



Last week at Wireless 2000, the cellular phone industry’s annual trade

show, Amazon announced an expanded service and a specially designed

portal allowing users of a range of wireless devices, from mobile phones

to Palm organizers, to shop, track orders and check shipping

availability. The previous week Motorola announced deals with 19 media

organizations and content providers, including Amazon, Reuters and

Sports.com, to push information to mobile phone users. Yahoo! is doing

its own deals with phone companies, and AOL is working with Nokia to

make a version of its Instant Messaging service available on phones.

Online brokerages such as Ameritrade, DLJdirect and TD Waterhouse are

working to implement on-the-move trading. Meanwhile, Microsoft is

working with Ericsson on its own mobile service, although the details

have not yet been announced.



All this will happen over the Internet. Sites such as Amazon’s mobile

portal are coded using a special standard called WAP (Wireless

Application Protocol) to make them friendly to devices with small

screens and low bandwidth. But they still use the Internet and access

the same databases as people with PCs. It’s just the device and the

interface that changes.



What does this have to do with PR? Just think about it. It completely

changes media, shopping and person-to-person communication. You no

longer need to be at your desk or in front of the TV to get news. It

reaches out to you, as long as you have your phone with you and have

requested information. Phones are far more personal devices than

computers, and few people will tolerate having their time and bandwidth

taken up by things they are not interested in. The challenge for media

organizations will be coming to grips with true personalization.



Imagine being in Barnes & Noble, fondling a particularly fine book and

at the same time being able to check its price on Amazon. Comparison

shopping will be one of the main applications of the new technology.



In Europe, instant text messaging by phone is as much of a teen

phenomenon as online chat. But imagine your AOL buddy list living on

your phone as well as your PC. People will now be networked not just at

their desks but on foot. That guy sitting at the back of the press

conference looking like he’s working out something really interesting on

a calculator? Actually, he’s instant messaging a colleague who is on the

phone to your arch-competitor.



So watch out when he asks a question.



And unlike a PC, your phone always knows where you are. Imagine being

able to be notified when one of the people on your buddy list comes

within 200 yards of you. Imagine being able to send journalists your

latest headlines as they enter the trade show you happen to be

exhibiting at.



Pretty soon, whatever you’re doing online will also have to take into

account mobile communication - always on, location based, personalized

as never before. And you thought doing PR on the Web was

challenging.





- Stovin Hayter is editor-in-chief of Revolution, scheduled to launch

this month. He can be contacted at stovin.hayter@revolutionmagazine.com.



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