Magazine Article | February 1, 2001

The Wireless Explosion

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Unlike smart cards and DVDs, wireless technology will explode in the United States. What we have seen so far will be dwarfed in the next 18 to 24 months.

Integrated Solutions, February 2001

It was a few years back when I was charged to write a story about the impact of DVD technology. Well, the story seemed pretty straightforward. Generally, all of the interviews elicited the same information. As a result, the story practically wrote itself. DVD technology is like a CD on steroids. The market for CDs exploded, and DVDs will follow the same course. So, start exploring how DVD technology will help your company. As I mentioned, the story practically wrote itself.

However, a story never ends with the last printed word. The story continues to evolve and change and, in many cases, arrive at an unpredictable end. Such is the case with many technology stories - DVD included. DVD technology has never been widely accepted by corporate America. The consumer applications for DVD are increasing, but they still pale in comparison to CD applications. And, DVD drives on the desktop are hardly ubiquitous.

Technology Supply Meets Consumer Demand
Other technologies follow the same unpredictable paths - look at smart cards. Widely accepted in Europe, these credit cards with a microprocessing chip are rarely used in the United States. However, that hasn't stopped vendors and analysts from evangelizing the smart card technology for almost a decade. Ask any of the pundits, and you will get the same answer. "Smart card technology poised to impact how all Americans transact business." It's a good line. But, it's the same line that has been used by smart card advocates year after year.

Simply put, technology becomes successful when it fills a need of businesses or consumers. Smart cards, for example, are used in Europe because the telecommunications infrastructure is fairly unreliable. In the United States, however, phone lines are a perfectly viable way to verify credit card transactions.

The different telecommunication infrastructures also led wireless technology to be adopted differently in the United States and Europe. Europe jumped at the chance to implement reliable wireless phones and the opportunity to develop applications for them. Plus, the combination of wireless technology and smart card technology proved to be a big convenience for Europeans. In the United States, there is hardly a public outcry for smart phone. But, that will change very soon.

Integrate Wireless Technology
Europeans use wireless phones to transact banking processing to access the Internet and to buy candy bars from vending machines. Wireless technology is so pervasive in Italy, that 54% of the population has a wireless phone. Once you toss out the citizens over 70 years old and under 10 years old, almost every person is using a wireless phone.

Make no mistake about it, wireless technology is getting ready to explode in the United States. Current wireless technology is more like children's July fourth sparklers compared to the enormous fireworks that will certainly follow. This is unlike smart card and DVD technology, which fizzled in the face of consumer ambivalence. Wireless technology will not face such challenges. For consumers, there were few advantages to owning smart cards or DVDs. That's not the case with wireless technology. Consumers are waiting for this technology. They are anticipating the applications that will be developed.

For your business, that means a big investment in wireless technology integration. As consumers start using wireless technology at a younger age, they become more reliant on the technology as they grow older. The same evolution will happen with your business. Make the investment today. For tomorrow, your business will rely on such technologies.

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