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WAPathy. [see below]

I wish I’d thought of this term. Bryan Robertson calls WAP the “Internet in My Pants”. I wish I’d thought of that, too.

Those few of you bored enough to read this list know how I feel about WAP. It’s not so much that it sucks… it’s that there are too few useful things for us to do with it, and too few usable technologies that make WAP more convenient and handy than, say, calling someone.

Case In Point:

When I got lost on a drive from Vancouver to San Francisco this summer I called Mark in his home office. He was sitting in front of his computer at the time. I gave him my relative position, reading road signs, and Mark pinpointed me within seconds. Mark http’d over to Mapquest. He then guided me, through my earpiece, to my intended destination. A five minute call and some gentle ribbing was the only penalty.

Using WAP or any other current wireless technology, in my pants or otherwise, would have been much more difficult and time consuming. For one I would have had to pull over, so as not to be distracted, to use a WAP version of something like Mapquest. For another, I would have to surf through a number of pages to get to the information I wanted.

Mark did this, too. Only Mark was behind a DSL connection and had a 15″ screen to look at. While a picture is worth a thousand words (and I guess so is a map) there are only 30-40 words on that map that help me get to where I’m going. Mark read and interpreted the map faster than I could have downloaded it and more easily than I would have, squinting into the 1.5″ LCD screen on my phone.

Mark is a person. (Congratulations, Mark!). People are more often than not better interpreted by other people than they are by machines. If Mark can do this for me, and can outdo Mapquest and everybody else, isn’t there a business here? What is the cost of having Mark do this vs. building up a bunch of unreliable technologies?

Summary:

This experience underscores my interest in companies like OnStar and further fuels my original belief that while WAP can be useful, it is very function-specific and is not ever going to be a ubiquitous technology.

WAPathy will and should continue until it proves itself useful, much like the Internet. Since the dot coms have started piling up, I think that the market is also passing judgement on which functions the web and internet apply themselves to. Pity this didn’t happen sooner.

-Ian.

>Date: Fri, 22 Dec 2000 00:28:11 -0800 (PST)
>From: Jared Rhine
>To: fork [at] xent [dot] com
>Subject: New term spotted
>
>I spotted a new term in that fiercewireless.com newsletter[1] I
>mentioned earlier, and thought it amusing enough to forward:
>
> “wapathy”
>
>as in customer’s lack of interest in WAP.
>
>[1] http://www.fiercewireless.com/archives/weeklyreport/issue36.htm
>
>– jared [at] wordzoo [dot] com
>
>”If you’ve always done it that way, it’s probably wrong.”
> — attributed to Edward Kettering

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