Hooray! Pocket your PC

By : |June 29, 2002 0

In the late nineties analysts predicted the latent potential of mobile and
wireless applications market. Forrester Research estimated the wireless software
market size to reach $ 90 billion by 2003. When handhelds were expected to
overtake PCs as computing and access devices many companies like Oracle,
Microsoft, IBM and CA rushed into building applications for mobile devices. Web
portals, wireless LANs and the spread of CDMA and GSM-based mobile telephone
networks lured the mobile and wireless software market segment.

However a reality check revealed that this market did not take-off as
predicted. Non-affordability of handheld computing devices was one of the
reasons. Disparity of standards in mobile networks, the 2.5G vs. 3G debate and
non-availability of applications were other reasons.

Clearly, the opportunity and the trends in this segment were over-hyped. The
mobile and wireless software market had not been defined distinctly. Mobile
software and wireless software are entirely separate domains. According to
Gartner, “it is a collection of fragmented markets, each with its own
players, target buyers and rules, still full of fast-moving opportunities for
large and small”.

The applications varied from a stand-alone software to navigate the menus of
a mobile handset, a PDA calendar to e-mail connectivity software or sales force
automation software on a PDA to connect to an ERP backbone. To lessen the
complexity, wireless applications are broadly categorized into three. Mobile
applications that run on PDAs, cellphones and specialized devices like
intelligent barcode scanners and can stay online or offline as desired. Wireless
applications run over wireless networks like infrared, wireless LAN, Bluetooth
or a GSM/ CDMA-based cellular network. And wireless Internet applications are
characterized by a microbrowser on a PDA or a smart-phone that is always
connected to the Internet. Business applications that run on PDAs and similar
specialized devices are one of the oldest and still demand high investments. In
India the trend is fast emerging in industries like pharma, FMCG and insurance.

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