Is WAP dead?
December 10, 2008 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Is WAP dead? I have a limited budget to create wireless offerings for several websites which currently have none. Is it even worth investing the time and money into WAP versions in late 2008, or should I just focus on http web templates that are optimized for iphone/smartphone screens?
posted by MaxVonCretin to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
iPhone utterly dominates the mobile browsing marketplace. Unless your websites operate in a vertical where you know your customers will want WAP access, supporting it is probably not worth your time.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:35 AM on December 10, 2008


Echo b1tr0t. WAP isn't quite dead, but it's already mortally wounded; the iPhone is both dominant and increasing its marketshare rapidly, and its competitors have, or are moving towards, comparable rendering capabilities. If you're limited and don't specifically know that WAP is in demand, skip it.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:42 AM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


3rded. WAP is dead, as is the .mobi TLD that was supposed to lead to its widespread use.
posted by exhilaration at 7:54 AM on December 10, 2008


FWIW, the WALL / WURFL tag library and capabilities database lets you write code that senses the phone's capabilities (WML vs. XHTML, and which flavor) and serves the content appropriately.

Developing custom pages for phones is usually a fairly expensive prospect, and you need to perform extensive testing even with a robust capabilities database. Unless you have a content management system or serious demand for this from people with older phones, I'd recommend against pursuing this. The IPhone is great, it represents a significant share of mobile browsing already (mostly because browsing on traditional cell phones sucks major ass), and it clearly sets a minimum standard for performance for future phones just to stay in the game.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:59 AM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


WAP may be (almost) dead, but SMS gateways are still very useful for simple/small amounts of data. For example, I can text my bank and get my current balance. It even works on non-smart phones.
posted by hylaride at 8:08 AM on December 10, 2008


As far as I can tell, WAP is dead unless you're working on a service for an existing audience that needs it (large intranet covering users with old phones, or a mobile carrier's portal). It was always a terrible technology (HTML would've done the job just fine, but they wanted to create something more complicated and patent-laden) and it's hard to justify spending time on it nowadays.
posted by malevolent at 8:44 AM on December 10, 2008


"WAP" is still used in the industry to cover HTML websites targeted to phone browsers, just so you are aware. Not all of these phones are quite smartphones, either.
posted by mkb at 9:16 AM on December 10, 2008


Take a look at .mobi. WAP may not be dead but it's not something you want to invest your time in.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 10:10 AM on December 10, 2008


Well considering that WAP 2.0 is simply XHTML, any valid XHTML document should be a valid WAP 2.0 document as well (with a few exceptions). Only older mobile devices and those produced for consumption in backwards foreign nations (I'm looking at you, Canada!) require WAP 1.0 for web browsing.

More info.
posted by MaxK at 1:02 PM on December 10, 2008


WAP is dead. Build iPhone pages, since even non-iPhone devices are now striving to display iPhone-compatible pages correctly!
posted by ranglin at 1:39 PM on December 10, 2008


Well considering that WAP 2.0 is simply XHTML, any valid XHTML document should be a valid WAP 2.0 document as well (with a few exceptions). Only older mobile devices and those produced for consumption in backwards foreign nations (I'm looking at you, Canada!) require WAP 1.0 for web browsing.

Yeah, that's not really relevant. Sure your XHTML might be valid for some subset of phones, but the real problem is that you need to recompose your pages for the small screen and limited capabilities. My blackberry has a "real" web browser, but none of our coporate intranet apps are usable. They render as well as the blackberry can render them, but they just aren't usable.

The big problem with WAP is that the capabilities of each device are very different. You could build a site that works great on a RAZR, but it won't be usable on any other Motorola phone. Similarly, you can't build a generic site that will work well on all nokias. Every WAP device is a special case.


WAP may be (almost) dead, but SMS gateways are still very useful for simple/small amounts of data. For example, I can text my bank and get my current balance. It even works on non-smart phones.

SMS works because it is really universal. You can even build interesting apps that interact with DTMF and caller-ID. The simple stuff is the best for handset development.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:43 PM on December 10, 2008


The big problem with WAP is that the capabilities of each device are very different. You could build a site that works great on a RAZR, but it won't be usable on any other Motorola phone. Similarly, you can't build a generic site that will work well on all nokias. Every WAP device is a special case.

This is why there exist services like WURFL, DeviceAtlas (and the other MobiForge products), NetBiscuits, etc.
posted by mkb at 7:24 AM on December 17, 2008


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