January 09, 2001, 2:43 PM — SANTA CLARA -- This week a variety of vendors will unveil an array of products aimed at making wireless data services over the Internet a more viable option for corporate users.
Attendees at the Wireless I.T. 2000 show, hosted by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, will see new handheld clients, including a prototype of Microsoft's "Stinger" smart cell phone, high-speed interface cards and server software that translates Web content into formats that can be displayed on small-screen devices. In addition, some carriers may announce new wireless data services aimed at corporate users.
Cahners In-Stat Group predicts that more than 1.5 billion cellular phone handsets, PDAs and Internet appliances will be equipped with wireless capabilities by the end of 2004. Users will want to access mobile commerce applications, entertainment, real-time financial information and travel and direction services, Cahners says.
Still, the hyperbole about wireless data runs aground on some tough issues: low wireless transmission speeds, security concerns and carrier networks that are still largely oriented toward voice traffic, not data.
One of the other issues facing customers and service providers is providing different types of handhelds -- which use different kinds of wireless networks -- access to Web-based applications. Several companies will unveil products aimed at addressing this issue.
For example, NewsTakes of Burlingame, Calif., will unveil software designed to automatically convert information in text, graphics, images, and audio and video files into formats that can be used by almost any kind of device, including cell phones using Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and NTT DoCoMo's iMode protocol.
The patent-pending software, originally developed by Kent Ridge Digital Labs in Singapore, uses artificial intelligence technologies to tailor the display to fit the capabilities of the device and of the wireless network used by the device. This week, Dow Jones and the Associated Press will announce deals with NewsTakes to use the software.
According to Steve Rand, News Takes' senior vice president of business development, the software will let carriers or corporate users make use of existing content without requiring costly, time-consuming changes to it.