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IBM touts its wireless wares
Monday, August 21, 2000

Japan – eWeek
eWeek Japan

Developers say wireless computing support from large vendors can go a long way toward helping their e-businesses expand into the wireless Web

The Armonk, N.Y, company preached the gospel of pervasive computing last week here at its Solutions conference and stressed that the wireless and device-driven world is a key part of its future.

IBM has added support for pervasive computing to its 15 partnership centers around the world and next month will release its WebSphere Everyplace Suite, an extension for its application server that enables wireless devices to access Web applications.

“You must mobilize your applications, or at least have some bridges in order to make your applications or model usable by devices like PDAs [personal digital assistants],” said Marco Bellon, a developer with Led srl, in Rapallo, Italy. For his purposes, Bellon added, mobile phones are becoming ubiquitous. “In Europe, and especially Italy, the mobile market is growing at a super-fast pace,” he said.

Bellon said he’d like to see IBM get more involved with companies such as Nokia Corp. and Ericsson Inc. to develop APIs to help developers get to market faster.

The market for wireless is expected to reach $230 billion by 2003, and IBM is going after $83 billion of it with services, servers, software and its own devices.

John Patrick, IBM’s vice president of Internet technology, said he expects the number of users accessing the Internet via PCs to drop from about 95 percent now to 40 percent or 50 percent in as little as two years. “The PC [is not] going away,” Patrick said. “But the era of the PC as the center of the universe and as the center of what’s going on in the Internet … is over. What’s replacing it is many devices.”

IBM’s WebSphere Everyplace Suite supports 25 networks and protocols, including WAP (Wireless Access Protocol), and acts as a gateway for devices. Also included is the key WebSphere Transcoding Publisher, which automatically translates data into an appropriate format for a device.

Patrick Lee, a technical specialist for Royal Bank of Canada, in Toronto, recently launched a pilot project for wireless banking. Lee said he’s interested in using IBM’s transcoding technology to eliminate a middle tier and allow data to go from the transcoder directly to devices.

A.K. Arcomona, an independent developer and consultant in Centreville, Va., said IBM will need to enhance its transcoding because it supports only certain levels of servers. That said, Arcomona added that he believes the company is moving in the right direction.

“IBM and any other companies are just getting started in putting together the building blocks,” he said. “It’s still very much in the infancy stage.”

WebSphere everywhere – IBM’s Everyplace Suite lineup