Oracle to Offer Wireless E-Commerce

Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ:ORCL) announced today that it is launching its “Portal-to-Go” browser, a product that will let consumers shop electronically from any existing mobile phone.

Portal-to-Go, to be launched at a telecoms conference in Geneva next week, is due to begin production next month. It will enable any mobile device to pull information from the Internet, facilitating online shopping with a few keystrokes.

Additionally, the browser can be personalized and pre-loaded with information to enable quick purchases. The technology has the capability to notify users when, for example, a stock they are holding hits a key level.

Going for International Versatility

“We’re essentially tripling the number of users on the Internet as soon as Portal-to-Go starts shipping,” said Denise Lahey, vice-president of Oracle’s division for mobile and embedded technology.

There are currently 300 million mobile device users globally, but only 120 million access the Internet through personal computers, Lahey said. The number of mobile subscribers is expected to reach one billion in the next few years.

The launch could initially reach more than 11 million subscribers through deals with state-owned co-developers Telia ofSweden — which is already operating the browser — BT Cellnet, and a Korean carrier with about four million subscribers.

“We’re working with carriers all over the world,” Lahey said.

Portal-to-Go crosses divides between U.S. and European standards and works on analog and digital phones. Its potential is greatly enhanced because it can support any device, Lahey said.

The key to the product’s universal appeal is the use of XML, a powerful markup language that is designed to open up data on the Internet. “It’s very easy to take something from XML and transform it into whatever’s supported on every device, from a pager to a cell phone,” Lahey said.

Reaching the Masses

For businesses, Portal-to-Go enables access to stored data such as a human resources database, calendar or inventory information. Additionally, Oracle is working with Motorola to enable the browser to be voice-operated, and with Sun Microsystems to let it locate and operate remote devices such as printers.

For browser distribution and branding, Oracle is charging wireless carriers $2 (US$) per user per year.

With Portal-to-Go, consumers worldwide will have the luxury of doing business, making purchases and gathering data from any location in the world. The added convenience is its ability to repackage Internet data simply for transactions rather than just surfing.

Right on Time?

Portal-to-Go may have arrived at a crucial time. In a survey conducted by GartnerGroup of HP Shopping Village, results show that consumer e-commerce sales worldwide are expected to top $12.2 billion this holiday season. Of those who intend to purchase online, 48 percent are new online buyers.

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