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The Wireless Web

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Wireless Constraints

Despite the potential of wireless to deliver immediate, localized, and personalized content to mobile users, application providers are constrained by the limitations of mobile devices and networks (see Table 1.1). The small screens available on most cell phones and PDAs provide only a few lines of text, and the limited bandwidth of most wireless networks greatly constrains the amount of information that can be delivered to wireless devices.

Table 1.1 The Pros and Cons of Current Second-Generation Mobile Wireless




Small screens


Low bandwidth


Diverse standards

As a result, it's inevitable that wireless technology undergoes some of the same growing pains experienced by other emerging technologies (see the sidebar "The Cycle of New Technologies"). Disillusionment with early wireless services can be attributed to limitations of second-generation (2G) networks. Moving to a plateau of productivity will require third-generation (3G) high-speed bandwidth to give users full access to the rich content and commercial possibilities of the web. (See Chapter 5 for a more detailed discussion of 3G.)

The Cycle of New Technologies

Figure 1.2 shows the hype cycle of new technologies. After a technology is first introduced, a period of inflated expectations follows, with excitement and anticipation of what the new technology may bring. Fueled by marketing hype and the rush to get the technology to market, the initial burst of enthusiasm is then usually dashed by the initial implementation, leading to a trough of disillusionment. As designers and marketers begin to understand customer needs, problems are resolved, and more realistic expectations lead to a slope of enlightenment and ultimately to a plateau of productivity.

In the early 1990s, the hand-held computer was greeted with enthusiasm when the Apple Newton emerged on the scene. However, user frustration with the Newton's size and less-than-stellar handwriting recognition had some people doubting that hand-held devices even had a future. But then the Palm Pilot came along and created the PDA market.

Figure 1.2 The stages of introducing a new technology 4

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