Generation X handsets will come from Japan

Cross the Italian mobile phone culture with Japan's sophisticated wireless technologies, and you have some idea of the potential for wireless Internet access and mobile commerce in the Middle East.

  • E-Mail
By  Peter Conmy Published  August 5, 2000

Cross the Italian mobile phone culture with Japan's sophisticated wireless technologies, and you have some idea of the potential for wireless Internet access and mobile commerce in the Middle East.

At least, this is the the view of Jay Abbasi, director of sales and marketing for Generation X Technologies.

GXT, as it is known for short, is a UAE-based startup focused on developing applications that enable operators to roll out wireless data services based on WAP.

GXT is developing applications for backend processes like customer care and billing, and customer facing applications for areas such as information delivery (news or stock quotes) and banking.

Mobile Culture

"We are a Dubai based company that has been able to build some great applications that has potential outside the region," said Abbasi.

So why the comparison with Italy and Japan? Abbasi explained that Italy has the type of low Internet usage, and very high mobile penetration, that the Middle East has - plus a mobile culture.

"If you're in a meeting in Italy and the phone rings, you pick it up and answer it," he said.

Japan enters the comparison because of its advanced wireless infrastructure. There, six million subscribers to NTT DoCoMo's I-Mode service can already play games, send graphical attachments with their emails and download new ringing tones.

"Take the culture in Italy and the technology in Japan and you begin to see a picture of the potential marketplace in the Middle East," said Abbasi.

The marketplace in this region will come into its own when GPRS upgrades arrive. In the meantime, GXT intends to roll out first generation WAP services, continue to develop expertise in the technology and gain the benefits of first mover advantage.

Great Potential

Even over today's limited networks, Abbasi still sees great potential. He believes that WAP in its current form already has a lot more to offer than SMS, the technology you use to send text messages on your phone.

If you want to perform a transaction from your mobile now, SMS is slow in sending a response to a query. With WAP, however, the response is much quicker, almost instantaneous, according to Abbasi.

Abbasi likens the wireless market now to the traditional Internet market in the early days, when slow analogue modems were the norm.

Just as today's Internet giants got into that market early, so too should wireless Internet players. Abassi told Mobile Executive, "This is the time to build applications, position yourself and be ready for the expansion that's going to happen early to mid next year."

In GXT's case, its applications will help service providers to develop both the underlying platform for WAP and the services that run on top of it.

WAPSite, for example, enables existing HTML Web sites to be converted to the WML format read by WAP phones. Its WAPCare application will help operators to control the provision of facilities like billing information, connection status and call forwarding and barring.

With an application like WAPCinema, WAP subscribers can find cinema information and make reservations. They can use WAPMoi to access email, weather, news, stock quotes or shopping information. For users that want to do their banking on the move, GXT has developed WAPMoney.

Ultimate Aim

Behind GXT is a group of people brought together from companies like Cray, Motorola, Sun and IBM. Some of them have worked in the Middle East, whilst others came on board from the USA. The founders of GXT have established the company and seeded it with capital from their own pockets.

Initial funding is likely to be sought from investors in the Gulf. The company is UAE-based but wants to work with internationals in the future. The ultimate aim is to share knowledge globally and expand overseas.

GXT wants to get itself fully up and running with services and completed applications as soon as possible, but it is always looking ahead to the next technology breakthrough. GXT is particularly excited by the prospect of voice activated data services and location based technologies.

The ramifications for individual consumers, as well as business, are boundless. Instead, for example, of waiting for stock activity to download onto your screen, a simple call can translate Internet content into human speech. This is the type of application that GXT already has in mind. "We're looking all the way out till 2003," said Abbasi.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code