Forum hopes for WAP 2.0 success

The release of WAP 2.0 signals the emergence of Extensible HyperText Markup Language (XHTML) as the new super-standard for...

The release of WAP 2.0 signals the emergence of Extensible HyperText Markup Language (XHTML) as the new super-standard for wireless applications

WAP 2.0 is backed by influential members of the WAP forum, such as the GSM Association and Nokia.

XHTML is a wireless markup language that claims better compatibility with the Extensible Markup Language (XML) standard than its troubled precursor, Wireless Markup Language (WML). It also offers end-to-end security fixes.

The move to XHTML could also pave the way for easier porting of applications between different channels; for example, making it easier to push banking updates to both Web and WAP devices.

"The move away from WML is good news for developers," said Jonathan Webb, technical director for mobile developer Lutris Technologies. "WML has tended to be difficult to develop in and is not well suited to future XML applications," he added.

Mobile telecoms analyst Allison Webb, of research and consulting group Frost & Sullivan, said, "WAP 2.0 is definitely a step in the right direction. It seems that the real needs of the industry have been addressed and the new standard may help remove some of the damage WAP 1.0 did to the adoption of mobile services."

But she claimed the new standard in itself was not enough, and believed that the wireless industry should learn from the success of Japanese provider I-Mode.

I-Mode is currently based in compact HTML (CHTML) but is also heading towards XHTML, a convergence that may well help to establish a global standard for mobile applications, said Frost & Sullivan's Webb, adding, "that will make development easier and reduce compatibility problems".

James Pearce, a vice president of WAP devices testing company Argogroup, said, "The success of the new WAP services will depend upon who uses the 'optional' bits of the new standard, and how the industry adopts it. Hopefully the members of the WAP forum will learn from the mistakes made last time."

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