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
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
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
- Stovin Hayter is editor-in-chief of Revolution, scheduled to launch
this month. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.