The wireless industry trade show that opened in New Orleans on Sunday produced a blizzard of news, hype and positioning, as AOL (dossier), Microsoft (MSFT) and Amazon.com (AMZN) all made major announcements.
AOL's news centered around deals to expand access to its Instant Messenger service from cell phones. The online giant got a great deal of ink, as you might expect would follow a Steve Case keynote from a major conference. But CNET (CNET)'s John Borland and Jim Hu pointed out how late AOL was to this market. Borland and Hu didn't count AOL out: They noted that Microsoft and Yahoo (YHOO), which are now expanding their early wireless footprints, are essentially guessing which services customers will want based on tiny samples of early users. AOL's bet that its tens of millions of instant-messaging customers will want to expand the practice to their cell phones looks like a no-brainer by comparison.
Microsoft showed a broader range of wireless services, according to MSNBC. Bill Gates demonstrated MSN Mobile version 2.0, with e-mail, travel information, weather and stock quotes. Everyone who wrote about Microsoft's announcements reported Gates' emphasis on giving the user control, from a desktop PC, of what information goes to the cell phone. The man was on message.
Moving beyond handheld services, CNET's Wylie Wong covered Lucent's new wireless connectivity products for both portable and desktop computers. Wong noted that Lucent, unlike some other players in this field, was pushing to use the same standard for business and home connectivity.
The San Jose Mercury News ran a Reuters story on an Israeli company, PassCall, that takes a different approach to handheld wireless surfing. Instead of requiring webmasters to customize sites for wireless display, PassCall makes software that translates any Web site to a form that is easy to navigate on a number of wireless devices. Now, that's mobility. - Keith Dawson
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