I've worked in the wireless data field for a long time, first in
amateur packet radio, then on CDMA digital cellular at Qualcomm.
Naturally, what I say here are only my personal opinions.
I also scratched my head when WAP came out. It just didn't make any
technical sense. I see I'm not the only one; bravo for writing such a
One thing missing from most block diagrams of WAP is the chute on the
bottom of the carrier's WAP gateway pouring out money. It's safe to
say that this chute is WAP's primary reason for existence.
WAP has gotten as far as it has (which isn't very far) only because
cell phones are closed, proprietary devices. The end user has no
choice which software or protocols it runs. The vendors make that
decision for you.
The best defense against WAP is an open handheld platform that allows
end users (and independent vendors and open-source developers) to run
applications and network protocols of their own choice. As long as
the service providers support IP (perhaps in addition to WAP), the
open platform users can just ignore WAP and run standard Internet
applications. And they can benefit from all the work currently being
done in the IETF and elsewhere on making the Internet protocols work
even better over wireless than they already do.
Consider a Palm Pilot connected to a cell phone. (Or built into one,
like the pdQ). The Pilot is about as open as handheld platforms
currently get, and it already supports a multitude of Internet
protocols (TCP/IP/PPP, SMTP, etc). It is *far* more capable as a
handheld data terminal than the tiny display and keypad on a cell
phone. Exploit that combination and WAP will die a well-deserved death
on the vine.
The Internet end-to-end model will once again prevail, putting the
cellular service providers back into their proper place as providers
of packet pipes, nothing more. And life will be good again. :-)