International Disconnect

Long-fragmented U.S. wireless networks have created a chasm in the global business network.

1 2 3 4 5 Page 4
Page 4 of 5

Problems with lack of interoperability among devices aren't limited to the U.S. Many global users must rent or change out their devices when moving from region to region. They also pay premium per-minute or per-megabyte charges when they roam off their in-country flat-fee or pooled-minutes plans. King says the situation is improving, since South Korea and Japan recently adopted HSDPA technology and plan to discard their CDMA-based networks.

Development Pickle

Then there are platform development considerations. Asia in general and Japan specifically are very handheld-centric. "Japan loves little devices and doesn't want to tote laptops, because users take public transportation a lot," says Kerr.

The Japanese have been able to use smart phones to access the Web since 1999, when NTT DoCoMo Inc. launched i-Mode service and associated phones. NTT DoCoMo's two primary in-country competitors in the mobile market quickly followed suit with similar services, and there are more than 80 million subscribers to such services in Japan today.

Some reports say that about one-third of the Japanese population uses i-Mode 10 or more times a day to book train tickets, conduct online banking, find restaurants, check the weather and download ring tones. The three Japanese carriers also formed alliances with mobile operators in 15 European, Middle Eastern and Asian countries enabling the i-Mode services to be used across borders.

In contrast, the U.S. put its money on the Wireless Access Protocol (WAP), an i-Mode-like technology intended to provide WAP-enabled phones with access to WAP-enabled Web sites. WAP has largely been unsuccessful in the U.S. because it initially required complex development and its promise of an Internet-like experience over tiny devices didn't meet U.S. user expectations. I-Mode fared better because its underlying technology was more like HTML and "Japanese users are more forgiving about network issues than U.S. users," says Kerr.

U.S.-based businesses are also more inclined to use laptops and tablet PCs because the applications developed for them tend to remain in use for a while.

"The enterprise development cycle is 12 to 18 months, and we tend to write our interfaces around the device display," notes King. "Handhelds change so fast that [once internal development is complete], the device/display won't be available any longer."

1 2 3 4 5 Page 4
Page 4 of 5
7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon