Amid the doom and gloom of the hi-tech downturn it was thought that one sector might prove to be a shining light. But is the wireless market really ready to deliver on its promise? Irene Gahan talks to Stephen McCormack of Nebula Technologies about whether the wireless Internet can live up to the hype.
Stephen McCormack is one of the co-founders of Nebula Technologies and is co-CEO of the company. Nebula provides clients with e-business strategies for the wired and wireless Internet and won the 2001 Golden Spider award for Web Design/Development Agency.
ENN: How is the wireless industry doing in Ireland?
SMC: It has gone into hibernation since the initial hyped start it received. However, the core people and companies that originally established themselves in this sector are still around.
ENN: What are the barriers to its growth in this country?
SMC: The main barrier to the growth is the funding issue. I would say that things are going to move at a slower pace than was previously planned. So over the next three years if you have funding that will get you through the lean times you should come out the other end as one of the established players.
ENN: What impact will 2.5G have on the sector?
SMC: It will allow "always on" connections at a higher speed, which is extremely appealing, especially for PDA devices. This will appeal to the higher end of the market in the short-term with applications such as e-mail and calendar functions.
ENN: Will 3G live up to the hype?
SMC: Eventually, but it will have a longer lead-time than was anticipated. While it will change the way in which we communicate, it may be a three year gestation period before we see mainstream applications.
ENN: What will be the killer application for 3G?
SMC: There won't be one specific application, but rather a range of applications that appeal to different market sectors. Gaming for the consumer side and personal applications such banking will be among the most popular offerings. Another will be e-mail.
Corporate Intranet applications for 3G will have two levels. The first will be based on the fact that a CFO or CEO that does not have real-time information while they are out of the office on how his or her company is performing can't expect to keep ahead of their competitors in the current climate. The second level will be aimed at the people on the ground that look after stock, deliveries, and sales etc.
ENN: How are telecom companies going to recoup the massive amounts of money they paid for the 3G licences?
SMC: If you likened the licences to real estate then it is a long-term investment, which will pay off over time. Couple this with the telecos sticking to what they know best and outsourcing the actual applications to the experts, and they will see a return.
ENN: M-commerce promised a lot, but some say that it hasn't really delivered. Do you think that people will really buy goods and services over their mobile phones?
SMC: I don't necessarily agree that nothing has happened to date. M-commerce is taking baby steps at the moment, and will develop extensively over a period of time, but there are innovative companies out there pushing the future of mobile payments. If you think about it, a mobile is the one thing that we carry around with us all the time. However, suppliers have to think about what is realistically possible when it comes to m-commerce. People still want the one click option. It will be a useful application for impulse purchases.
ENN: How does you see the wireless market shaping up over the coming months?
SMC: Stability is important in this industry now. The last quarter has seen a pick up in sales and projects being commissioned. I would predict a cautious Q1, a generous Q2, moving to a positive Q3 and Q4. My main fear is that investment funds dry up. Investors need to be cautious, but the worry is that they will overlook the tech sector and while it won't hit the sector immediately, we will see the repercussions of it a few years down the road.
Irene Gahan is managing director of Web Intellect, a leading Internet technologies training company -- http://www.webintellect.ie.
Nebula can be found at http://www.nebula.ie/.