IBM deal to offer location-based mobile services

IBM customers will soon be able to take advantage of location-based mobile services. IBM has signed a deal with Webraska to...

IBM customers will soon be able to take advantage of location-based mobile services. IBM has signed a deal with Webraska to integrate its wireless navigation technology with IBM hardware and software.

Daniel Thomas

The deal means companies will be able to offer services based on technology that ties in a wireless device's location with user information. An example would be to alert someone about special offers that match their interests when they are near to a shop that is selling them.

Other location-based applications include personal agendas, city guides, sales force automation, fleet management, dispatch centres and delivery. Investment in these services is expected to top $20bn (£13.8bn) by 2005, according to analyst Ovum.

IBM plans to port Webraska's Wireless Navigation Platform and Personal Navigation API software to its PSeries and XSeries e-Servers. It will also integrate Webraska offerings with its middleware platforms, including Websphere Everyplace Suite and DB2. In addition, the Webraska technology will be integrated into Lotus Notes Domino Everyplace calendar and address book.

Nick Jones, research director at analyst group Gartner, said location-based services are likely to play a key role in business applications, but not until the technology has matured.

"In the long term, this mapping technology could prove incredibly useful, but in the short term the weaknesses of Wap and second generation phones - the small screens and slow networks for example - will mean it will not work so well," he said.

Jones added that location-based services will be more effective when 2.5G and Java phones hit the market.

"IBM, together with Webraska, offers a secure wireless infrastructure platform for companies to easily create next generation wireless applications, whether it is for B2C, B2B or business-to-employee applications," said Val Rahmani, general manager of IBM wireless solutions.

Michel Mayre, general manager for pervasive computing at IBM, said that within 18 months location-based technology will be using artificial intelligence to predict what a wireless device user is going to do, based on their usual movements.

Read more on Business applications