Don’t rush to mobile Net, Oracle executive advises

Instead of preaching about the mobile revolution, Oracle Corp.’s executive vice-president EMEA Sergio Giacoletto told an audience of Internet professionals that they shouldn’t rush to get on the mobile Internet bandwagon.

Giacoletto, speaking at the Mobile Business Forum here, said Oracle, as a vendor, needs to be on the leading edge of technology, “but as a buyer you can wait. Early adopters will be start-ups, large companies will follow later.”

The Oracle chief for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), told the audience it would be a while before the mobile Internet is reality in Europe.

“WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) has been a disappointment, overrated by the press and venture capitalists. Forget about a real business to consumer (mobile Internet) market, we first need to reach critical mass,” Giacoletto said, adding that will take years.

“Technology is going very fast and business users are confused,” Giacoletto said, summing up the various mobile Internet technologies – WAP, I-mode, GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) – that are around.

Companies should, however, start thinking about what business processes should be mobile-enabled, Giacoletto said in an interview after his speech. “Don’t fall into the technology trap, look at the business processes, not just at the technology,” Giacoletto said, adding that Oracle offers software that works across all current mobile technologies.

Oracle’s customers are just now starting to investigate mobile possibilities, he said.

“A small percentage of our customers, say a couple dozen, is running pilots. Next year business-to-business mobile use will accelerate, GPRS will add a lot of applications,” he said. GPRS offers 56K bps (bits per second) to 114K bps transfer speeds over a mobile phone network.

Oracle itself is also mobile-enabling its business. Next year the sales force of the company’s Swedish division will be able to wirelessly access sales data with a WAP phone, Giacoletto said. In the Netherlands a GPRS trial is being set up with a local telecom operator.

Europe risks losing its wireless advantage because of the “disillusion of WAP,” Giacoletto said. “There was an opportunity for Europe to develop a lot of technology and services. Europe will lose momentum if it turns out the European standard (WAP) will not be the dominant one.”

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