Will Wireless E-Commerce Leapfrog Broadband?

If you think that Internet time is fast, just look at wireless time. Unwired e-commerce went from zero to Amazon.com in about 12 short weeks.

On the same day that Amazon.com announced its Net phone shopping on Sprint PCS, Microsoft announced a pact with wireless leader Ericsson to develop end-to-end solutions for wireless Internet.

Will Microsoft leap over the wired Internet service providers (ISPs) and become the first major wireless ISP, portal and e-tailer all rolled into one?

On the news of the partnership between Microsoft and Ericsson, Motorola’s stock closed at a 52-week high. Since Motorola is viewed as a wireless heavyweight, the company is sure to score big if wireless e-commerce skyrockets. Motorola and Cisco Systems pledged a $1 billion (US$) investment in wireless Internet over the next four to five years.

Massive Legitimacy

Microsoft’s announcement instantly became a powerful endorsement of the wireless Internet’s future. Word on the street is that Microsoft’s deal with Ericsson makes wireless Internet investments look smart instead of risky. A move like this one can shift a new industry into high gear.

Back in the early 1980s, computer mega-giant IBM announced that it would produce a personal computer within a year. The announcement alone legitimized an entire emerging market sector, putting a locomotive engine in the little sports car that Apple had been driving.

The Final Word?

I am beginning to see some writing on the wall. The road to broadband has been a big mess. ISDN, DSL, cable? All aspects of high-speed Internet access are up in the air. Pricing varies greatly. Nobody knows which connection technology will become predominant. Geographic availability is uncertain. It’s not clear whether the government will step in to regulate it, and chances are your home will be connected with different technology than your office.

The broadband confusion may ultimately be settled by the world going wireless. Wireless connectivity may leapfrog broadband before high-speed wire connections become comprehensible to consumers.

Wireless connectivity technology is already showing up in most new laptops. Sprint PCS and IBM are preparing a phone that acts like a modem for a laptop, giving the user all the connectivity of a phone wire.

So who needs wires? And if wireless seems pricey, well, broadband is not a cheap alternative.

More Than Mobility?

Mobility has always been the point of wireless devices. But what if wireless solutions are strong enough to look attractive to desktop users? With the speed of wireless developments, I would not be surprised to see most desktop PCs implanted with wireless connectivity next year.

Ultimately, wireless is sure to win the day. Wireless connections make more sense than stringing wires around the globe again and again, changing the nature of the wire every time there is a shift to new technology.

This very week may be the first brilliant burst of light in the dawn of a completely wireless Internet world.

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