IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) announced today that they are teaming up to develop enterprise Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), an open, global specification that empowers mobile users with wireless devices to instantly access and interact with information and services.
The agreement calls for IBM to market and distribute Nokia WAP server software on its PC servers and to license Nokia core WAP technology for integration with other IBM server platforms.
“Imagine having the Internet in your pocket, which is incredibly empowering for business,” said Pertti Lounamaa, vice-president, Nokia Wireless Software Solutions. “No longer must people be tethered to a PC to access the Internet. With a WAP enabled mobile device, people will have a simpler, easier and more flexible way to access the Internet,” he added.
The implications for consumers are widespread. Travelers, for example, might step out of their office on their way to the airport and be able to check traffic congestion, train timetables and flight schedules immediately. On the way to the airport, the same traveler might use the technology to select a seat for the flight, reserve a special meal, and purchase theater tickets for that evening.
Other services that the new IBM/Nokia alliance are aiming to enable through WAP include message notification, e-mail, news, sports and other information services, call management and online banking. WAP’s applications are ripe for the mass market while mobile and Internet technologies are experiencing rapid growth and the outlook for convergence products appears bright.
The Enterprise Leader Looks Forward
“If you want to be able to use a mobile phone instead of your PC to access information and services on the Internet, WAP is the key ingredient that will make this possible,” said Mark Bregman, general manager of IBM’s Pervasive Computer Division. “Combining Nokia’s leadership in the wireless space with our expertise in the enterprise, IBM will be able to quickly provide an expanded range of compelling data offerings for the mobile Internet.”
In fact, the much-touted “virtual office” takes a leap forward with this technology, allowing e-tailers, consumers and providers a new freedom.
To make it happen, Nokia WAP Server software will be available on IBM’s NetFinity servers running Microsoft Corporations Windows NT operating system in the fourth quarter of 1999. IBM will also combine Nokia WAP technology with its Pervasive Computing middleware. The technology will be applied to IBM’s upcoming wireless applications such as Transcoding Services — software that takes Web data and “translates” it — among other technologies in development.