Home > Articles > Networking > Wireless/High Speed/Optical

The Needs of the Wireless Internet User

📄 Contents

  1. The Needs of the Wireless Internet User
  2. Mobile Users Are the Secret
Think a wireless device is just a tiny PC? If so, your new gadget is headed for the dumpster. How people form a new relationship to the technology of the wireless Internet will have a decisive influence on how developers create that technology, says Mark Beaulieu in this sample chapter from his book Wireless Internet Applications and Architecture.
This chapter is from the book

As we look at people using wireless technology, it's useful to examine their relationship with technology over time. Good developers are able to move beyond the fresh discovery of technology to its valuable application for popular and personal needs. Wireless technology has a special audience. To develop lasting wireless Internet technology, it's important to experience a mobile user's viewpoint and to know what's valued about the mobile wireless Internet.

We Are at the Beginning

It's a common mistake to assume that because people can use cell phones to browse the Internet, the wireless Internet is a consumer market and therefore you should build consumer web sites for phones. Not so. While it's true that the consumer market for voice cell phones is maturing, the Internet use of phones is in its infancy. When telecommunications advertising tells people to "come out of your homes and into the light" and "use your cell phone to surf the Internet," it's a recipe for disaster. For the consumer, the mobile experience is nothing like the desktop Internet experience. Nor is its purpose.

The Technology Adoption Curve

Wireless technology is no different from any other new technology that works its way onto the world stage. It starts crudely, finds some initial uses, and eventually becomes widespread. It's critical to know where you are with respect to the maturity of the technology. Understanding which stage technology is in tells you not only the components to use, but for whom you're building your technology and what services they want. At each level of technology, a different kind of person uses it. Most developers are being told to build products for an advanced consumer market. They don't realize that we're at the beginning of a curve, where there is the most room for great invention: Wireless Internet in the early 2000s is a hobbyist, youth, and special-case business market. This is when reputations and industries are born.

Don't confuse the consumer market for cell phone voice with the technology stage for wireless data. Our current position on the wireless Internet technology adoption curve is apparent in Figure 1. It's based on a line of thinkers from Everett Rogers, Geoffrey Moore, and Paul Saffo to David Liddle, who showed how technology develops in society. The difference in psychology of the buyers and the purpose of the technology changes significantly over time. Technology has a trajectory of innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and finally laggards. Liddle simplified this to explain that a technology is first proven experimentally, then justified economically in business use, and then established as a commodity with standards and cost reductions to become a consumer reality.

Figure 1 Wireless Internet technology adoption curve.

As technology matures, so does the audience for whom you build it. When the technology is new, the first audience you should build for is the hobbyist. Only these earliest experimenters will stand the pain of "cranking up a horseless carriage." When the technology finds its first application, then you need early adopters inside a business or government agency. Businesspeople will put up with noisy but high-capacity heavy-duty trucks that move cargo. It's up to technologists to demonstrate value. If they do, then a business can justify buying expensive engines and long-lasting tires, establishing fuel supply, building roads, writing its own maps, and crafting its own signs. Finally, for a mature market, the developer can build for a consumer who will enjoy multiple benefits of a fully defined, standardized, and pervasive technology such as the automobile industry. In this mature phase, many different businesses play a part to sustain a vibrant market. The shift of building for the hobbyist, then a business, and then a consumer is called "crossing the chasm," which has been studied carefully by Geoffrey Moore.

Entering the Market at the Right Point on the Curve

In the beginning, a technology appears to come and go before it explodes as a market. There have been countless starts of disruptive technologies. Disruptive technologies, well studied by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, can transform the ratios of labor, capital, materials, and information that make the products and services of a company. Many disruptive wireless technologies that vied to alter the marketplace value of industries are now vestiges of computer companies and telcos. For computers, handwriting recognition was thought to be the disruptive technology to give the advantage to users of mobile computing. The pioneer handhelds—the Go PenPoint™ and the Apple Newton™—failed. General Magic forced their wireless communicator straight to the consumer market before solving the business requirements of wireless infrastructure and data billing—a legacy to their ICRAS spin-off, which repositioned its handheld wireless technology to early business vertical markets.

To a developer, it makes sense to build first for the youthful, the hobbyist, and early business, not for the pragmatist or general consumer. If you try to rush ahead to the general consumer, acceptance is often denied. Consumers will complain strongly, as we hear about web phones with small screens, long waits to connect, and unsatisfactory content. The popular and profitable wireless market i-mode in Japan started out on the right foot with a model for a youthful, hobbyist market. As we read, i-mode is already moving across the technology adoption curve into the mainstream to become a valuable business asset of the wireless Internet.

An important strategy in the development of wireless technology is appreciating the shift in adoption from hobbyist to vertical market and finally to horizontal market applications. A vertical market is a dedicated business market. Vertical market applications first address very specific business needs for a particular company or industry. The applications provide a clear benefit through higher productivity or other competitive advantage. Over time, the technology is improved and the advantages are more generalized. Vertical markets often become horizontal markets. A horizontal market application crosses many vertical markets and is a general commodity. It's an inevitable trend for most technology as the business changes from high margin to high volume.

An example of this progression is the growth of the word processor markets. In the 1970s, companies built dedicated word processing systems for business. These were vertical markets. In the 1980s, the word processor became a horizontal market application that could run on any computer. Another example of vertical to horizontal progression comes from telecommunications. iDEN originally was a dispatch radio network. Technically, it still is an Enhanced Specialized Mobile Radio (ESMR), but it's now a popular WAN cellular standard, charted by the FCC like all the other subscriber cellular services.

Today in the United States, most industrial wireless applications serve vertical markets. An example is the customer processing when you return a rental car at an airport. Agents use wireless devices to verify and track package delivery after your signature is taken. Another vertical wireless market is dispatch management, which uses wireless devices to send field workers to assignments. Still another is law enforcement, where officials use wireless devices to record infractions and print tickets. Established wireless vendors aspire to address larger horizontal markets. A broad spectrum of business users can use wireless communications across many lines of business.

The transition to horizontal markets can occur when wireless communication is fairly inexpensive, broadly deployed, and easy to use, and once a large number of off-the-shelf applications are available. Japan is rapidly undergoing the transition to an early horizontal consumer wireless market.

With early technology, you have to accept that infrastructure is not developed. Without support, you should have no grand illusion that the world wants it. You are "ahead of your time" with respect to society's ability to accept early technology. You might have invented the automobile, but without gas stations and roads (you mean I have to invent those, too?) then it can't take off in any major way. In wireless, we don't even have good automobiles for the consumer. Hobbyists travel a wireless highway in need of development, and although they run out of gas (batteries) far too often, the hobbyists and not the consumers will tolerate it.

Recognizing early technology, you can construct local applications that appeal to the youth market, hobbyists, and vertical market business segments. As global standards and technology mature, time your readiness to leap to the next phase, which is the early consumer horizontal market. Consumers are ready in Japan, some are in Europe, but they won't be for a few years in the United States.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020