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IP: Personal Web site for wireless/wired use
From: David Farber <farber () cis upenn edu>
Date: Wed, 08 Oct 1997 14:02:25 -0400

From: "Alan A. Reiter" <reiter () wirelessinternet com>
To: <farber () cis upenn edu>
Subject: Personal Web site for wireless/wired use
Date: Wed, 8 Oct 1997 10:26:47 -0400

I've been quoted in some publications recently about the AT&T PocketNet
launch.  I think the cellular industry blew it by not
building out CDPD nationwide a year ago.  And the manufacturers blew it by
offering devices with tiny screens.  So, I think
PocketNet as it exists today is a non-starter -- despite the supposedly
multi-million dollar advertising campaign about to launch
from AT&T.  

I don't think people will want to spend $299 on a phone with a tiny screen,
variable nationwide coverage and penetration, another
e-mail address, and information services that aren't terribly useful.

However, AT&T has debuted a concept that's interesting -- a free "personal
Web site" where you can download your address book for
easy access into the phone.  In fact, I wonder if it could be the start of
a new business.  Yes, I know that many of the people who
carry a PocketNet would carry an electronic organizer and I also know that
there can be security issues.  

Here's what I like about it, though.  If the phone is supposed to be a
standalone device -- where it's useful without needing
another device -- then the idea of easy transferability of information to
the phone seems logical.  

Wouldn't it be nice if you could have your own personal Web site ("external
intranet," whatever you want to call it) where you
could store a host of information and easily access it wirelessly or via
landlines?  Obviously, this isn't a service you would

Perhaps there could be a program that automatically synchronized your
wireless Web site with your desktop information (no limits --
PIM stuff, databases, whatever) with your electronic devices.  When you
pressed a button (on some device -- desktop PC, for
example) you automatically update everything you have, based on various
filtering criteria that you've previously established for
different devices -- Pilot, REX, phone, pager.  (Again, you're not stranger
to this concept!)

If AT&T (or someone else) could establish a service where -- without any
knowledge of HTML -- you could upload your information to
this external intranet so you could access it wirelessly or landline, I
think the idea would have value.  It would be especially
useful for people who don't have MIS departments.  Or, don't wait for your
MIS department.  Convert your own desktop databases into
comma-delimited format and upload it to your external intranet.

Of course, I also understand the argument that if you need information that
badly you will find a way to carry it on your person --
yes, but sometimes you forget or you want to carry only one device -- a
phone or two-way pager with limited storage.  Would I pay
for this service?  Maybe.  I pay $99 a year for Safeguard for backing up my
files over the Internet.  I think I might pay the same
amount for a personal Web site for the convenience.

On the other hand, perhaps people won't give a damn because they just don't
have that much information they need to access this
way!  That's been a problem with wireless data in general -- the lack of
truly compelling applications.


"Photons have neither morals nor visas"  --  Dave Farber 1996

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