GPRS Makes WAP Not Suck


A few days ago I was reading James' MMS Memo and saw this news item about the resurgence of WAP. There's a new interest in WAP now that GPRS makes it a useable service. You can see how the carriers and others are starting to downplay the "mobile internet" aspect and instead push the services that WAP pages can provide.

A perfect example of this is Vodafone Live's "Menu". Yep, that's what they're calling it: Just "Menu". And of course all it contains is an interesting bunch of WML pages packaged up and sold as a basic service in addition to their other offerings such as games and MMS. And nowhere is the word WAP found at all, since it has such a bad rep now. It makes sense since with a GPRS phone - even one that has a basic non-color screen - this type of service is very useful - so why not use it?. Especially since you can get to the pages quickly and are not paying by the minute like when using wap via GSM.

XHTML and WML 2.0 is coming also, which should help a ton in terms of popular acceptance. Though I know that I've started to get re-interested in WML myself even before these specs arrive. A year or so ago, WAP was a joke. Overhyped and underperforming. But now it works pretty well on my GPRS-enabled Nokia 7650 and even though I can now view full HTML pages from my phone, the speed and relative ease of use (read: limited UI) make WAP a viable option for viewing dynamic internet based information (note that I didn't say "web").

And now that us developers have GRPS phones in hand, we're starting to see the value of devleoping for it. For example Matt Croydon is working on an RSS to WML Python script:

I'm working on a python library/script to convert an rss file to a browsable wml file. Right now it can be used as a library and run from a cron job, though I'll release a cgi example at some point too. No source code for you yet, it's still too ugly. [Above] is a picture of my cel phone browsing the WML of my RSS feed before this post.

In addition to independent developers, the carriers are relying heavily on WAP services which is the base behind MMS.

Methinks that WAPs death has been exagerated.


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