In a 2001 report by Datamonitor, in the United States, titled "U.S. Mobile Devices to 2006, a Land of Opportunities," it was stated that there were 81.7 million mobile phone shipments in the United States by 2001. Multiplying at a compound annual growth of 17%, this figure will reach 183.8 million in 2006. In the meantime, shipments of handheld mobile devices will reach 49.9 million in year 2006. This will represent an increase of 22% from the year 2001. The report forecasted that the U.S. market will replicate Europe's success in wireless communication and growth by twofold in the next five years.
A survey, titled "Are you Ready? The use of mobile data applications in Europe," carried out by Arthur Anderson in 2000, focused on the corporate business market for mobile data and included 749 companies in Europe. In the survey, 78% of the participants viewed mobiles phones as critical or very critical to their business. Convenience and speed were some of the reasons for the popularity of mobile phones. Other benefits included the ability to gain operational efficiency, improve communications within the organization, especially with staff members constantly on the move, and the ability to be contacted from anywhere at anytime. Although more than three quarters of the participants admitted that mobile phones were critical to the survival of their business, the survey unraveled that few companies in Europe had been using applications that run on mobile platforms to deliver services to their customers. That was evident by the fact that only 6% of the respondents used mobile phones for e-commerce transactions.
While many people saw mobile phones as potential business delivery channels with which to improve relationships, the survey results showed that slow speed, limited bandwidth, high cost, etc., were some of the barriers for using mobile devices as a business delivery platform. Most of the respondents said that they were concerned about WAP security issues. The survey also showed that only 9% used mobile phones to access financial information, 11% used mobile phones to access information such as traffic and weather, and 8% used mobile phones to access news. Despite the fact that mobile phones were not used for e-commerce-related activities, it is generally expected that this will change, as the services provided by mobile devices improve and become more affordable and secure. The survey also showed that 24% of the respondents were using PDAs, 21% used WAP phones, while another 44% planned to use WAP-enabled mobile phones.
Vodafone, a mobile phone operation in Britain, working jointly with Ford, a car manufacturer, to bring wireless Internet to cars (Rudkin, 2001). Such wireless Internet service will be made available by pushing buttons on the car's stereo system. The wireless service will supply traffic information and help in the event of emergencies to the drivers of Ford cars, by facilitating GPS technology. In essence, on top of providing traffic information, the system will provide directions to drivers on how to get to a selected destination. It will also trigger emergency services whenever the car airbag is activated. Future services to be provided by Vodafone and Ford will include messaging services, weather information, and stock quotes. These services have been available in Germany since March 1, 2001. Other target implementation locations include Britain and other European markets.
The use of WAP was extended to create an organization's IntraWAP services (Loken, IntraWap—Wireless Offices, 2001). This service is similar to intranet services that were available through a desktop-bound Internet browser. A WAP-enabled phone can be used to access an organization's intranet site outside the office location. Such a service eliminates current problems with an intranet services modem and a notebook computer.
WAP technology was also extended to allow town councils in Europe to extend services to the public (Loken, 2000). A wireless pilot program in Stockholm, which was jointly developed by Telia, a mobile phone operator in Stockholm, and Stockholm Parking Corporation, allows a driver to park at a parking space and calls a specific number to register the parking lot. When it is time to leave, all the driver needs to do is to call the same telephone number, and the parking fee will be added to the customer's telephone bill. Such a wireless service allows consumers to park their cars conveniently by eliminating the need for consumers to queue and the need to have coins or small change to pay parking fees.
The use of WAP and mobile devices in entertainment and gaming businesses has great potential (Rudkin, 2001). In the United States, Digital Avenue, a WAP games developer company, put some of its most popular games onto its mobile portal (http://www.digitalavenue.8m.com). Games including Black-jack for gambling fans, Power Hockey for sports fans, Quiz for intelligent games fans, Monkey Island for adventure game lovers, and many other games applications, such as Trivial Pursuit, have been brought to WAP devices through SMS technology by Motorola and Codeonline (Loken, 2001). Codeonline is a Finnish mobile entertainment company. The games are expected to be available to all Motorola partners and will be available in the United Kingdom from April 2001.
Animated messages were brought to European WAP users by FunMail (http://www.funmail.com). FunMail is the organization that brought full-color animated messages to i-mode users in Japan. With such animated color messages, a WAP user will be able to send nontextual-based messages to another WAP phone user. Hewlett Packard Singapore reported that the company and Intel awarded a grant of $1 million to help five local companies deploy wireless solutions developed at Hewlett Packard's Mobile E Service Bazaar (http://myfsi.hp.com/solutions/esip/wp.pdf). The grant will help various WAP applications, such as mobile connectivity to office and personal e-mail, booking of cinema tickets via wireless devices, and wireless order and inventory services, to be introduced to the Singapore market. The grant, in essence, will help development and implementation of wireless technology to be boosted in Singapore and, in return, help to promote the development of wireless services to allow Singapore-based companies to tap into wireless technology and that consumer base.
Hewlett Packard, in September 2000, announced that it signed an agreement with Singapore Telecom and Lycos Asia to launch a product called HP Wireprint (http://www.hp.com.sg/news/2000-09-27.html). This e-service allows users to retrieve and send information over a secure channel to mobile devices or other output devices like printers and facsimiles. Unlike traditional mobile printing, HP Wireprint does not require the presence of the source file on the mobile devices. Furthermore, the printer drivers do not need to be installed on the mobile devices. From the user's side, all that is needed is user identification and password in order to access the shared resources, such as a network-shared drive on the network in the office. The service will first be deployed in the Asia-Pacific region and will then progressively expand world-wide.
The Singapore government is also interested in adopting some WAP applications to deliver public services. Such applications add additional channels for government to deliver public services and add convenience to public. The Ministry of Defense (MINDEF) extended its IPPT (a physical fitness test) booking service to national servicemen using WAP-enabled phones (http://www.ippt.mindef.gov.sg/ippt/wap/defencetown.wml). MINDEF also allows national servicemen to register their intention to temporarily leave the country through its Going Overseas WAP application.
The stockbroking industry is one area where WAP applications and mobile devices can be used more effectively. In Singapore, two stockbroking firms brought online trading facilities to WAP technology. They are POEMS and Fraser Securities. The WAP site of POEMS allows consumers to trade stocks, unit trust, and account information over WAP-enabled mobile phones (http://www.poems.com.sg). The WAP trading is available only to POEMS customers who subscribe to Mobile One, Singapore Telecom, or Starhub mobile phone operators. There are selected mobile phones that had been certified to be WAP-trading enabled. Services available in WAP trading include the service to allow consumers to place an order to trade in The Singapore Stock Exchange and other linked exchanges. Consumers are also able to view the status of their orders online, through WAP-enabled mobile phones. Consumers can also set alerts so that when a given counter reaches a given price, an alert is sent from the POEMS computer server to the consumer's mobile phone. Other services include account information facility, whereby consumers could check on their shares position, the amount of money that is due to or from POEMS.
Fraser Securities Pte Ltd, another stockbroking firm, provides online share-trading services via a mobile network to share investors in Singapore. Its Web site is currently accessible through Singapore Telecom E-Ideas. E-Ideas is a mobile commerce product from Singapore Telecom, where m-commerce services are grouped into categories for easy access (http://www.fraserdirect.com.sg). The trading features provided by Fraser Securities are similar to those provided by POEMS. The difference is only in the mobile phone operator. While POEMS allows customers to access its site through any one of the three mobile phone operators in Singapore, Fraser Securities allows its customers to access its site only through Singapore Telecom.
Banks also start to offer WAP services using mobile devices. DBS Bank customers who possess a WAP mobile phone or handheld devices would be able to use the WAP-based banking services through DBS Wireless Banking (http://www.dbs.com/ebanking/wireless). DBS Wireless Banking services allow customers to check their account balances and perform fund transfers between different accounts. DBS WAP services allow customers to access bank rates (e.g., fixed deposit rates, loan rates, etc.) and request financial news (e.g., news on stocks, shares, and corporate announcements) from the bank. Customers can also use the service to locate DBS or POSBANK offices, branches, and ATMs. For security, the WAP services use WTLS (Wireless Transport Layer Security) to protect a transaction by utilizing encryption technology. The WTLS security module that the bank implemented supports up to 128-bit key strength.
In the telecommunication sectors, the three mobile phone operators in Singapore, namely, Singapore Telecom, Mobile One, and Starhub, have also launched their WAP services. In comparison, the three companies are offering services that are similar in nature to those services offered by telecommunication companies in countries such as Britain and the United States. Singapore Telecom launched a WAP service available through mobile phones and PDAs called E-Ideas (Intelligent Do It Yourself Electronic Access Services). Singapore Telecom customers who signed up for this service are able to have an E-Ideas menu in their mobile phone and PDA devices. The menu lists a selection of e-commerce sites accessible through their mobile phones. The service allows customers to use their mobile phones to perform online transactions, such as electronic trading and electronic banking, online taxi reservation, and e-mail, any time of the day and anywhere in the world, as long as Singapore Telecom mobile phone roaming service is available. According to Singapore Telecom, there will be more services, such as electronic ticketing, electronic games, etc., planned to enrich Singapore Telecom E-Ideas (Emanuel, 2000). E-Ideas is aimed to benefit people constantly on the move, enabling them to access a wide range of information and services.
Starhub is another telecom player who introduced a personalized WAP service through its innovative product called iPower. iPower allows consumers to access the Internet without using a desktop computer. Unlike SingTel's E-Ideas, iPower allows personalization of the customer's mobile phone. The personalization allows customers to organize their bookmarks to the WAP site. Such personalization can be configured from the Starhub Web site. Starhub also extends its e-mail services to its mobile phone customers. Customers are allocated an e-mail address such as [telephone-number]@starhubmail.com.sg. This e-mail service allows customers to send and receive e-mail messages from their mobile phones. Basic e-mail services, such as managing messages and an address book, are also provided.
Mobile One Pte Ltd (M1), one of the three mobile phone operators in Singapore, launched Mi World, a WAP service available exclusively to M1 customers. Like its competitors, it allows its customers to get access to the latest financial, local, and international news, check weather and traffic conditions, e-mails, games, and banking with OUB Bank. M1 also allows its customers to purchase hampers and cards using their mobile phones. M1 presents WAP share-trading services through POEMS and Keppel Securities to allow its customers to place a share via their mobile phones.
WAP-based games form another WAP service that enables people to use mobile devices to gain access to a wider range of games while on the move (http://wirelessgames.com). A membership is required to access the full range of games available on the Web site. The Singapore-based portal of Oktopas (http://www.orktopas.com) provides news information that includes 4D and Toto result numbers, weather updates, and so on. The site also lists other WAP sites that are available in Singapore. The listings of the WAP sites are categorized in order to facilitate navigation and searching. The WAP site allows users to browse other WAP sites, such as Singapore eGuide and POEMS. In Singapore, WAP infrastructures and services are fully operational; however, the slow adoption of WAP and mobile devices is largely due to the limitations of mobile devices, as reported in an article in Computer Times (March 29, 2000).