November 18th, 2003


[K5] Top ten Net fads of the last decade.

4. WAP
"WAP" is the sound a clunky Internet-enabled cellphone makes when you throw it at a brick wall in frustration.

It also stands for Wireless Access Protocol, and was an early attempt to squeeze big web pages into a teeny-tiny little screen. I'm not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that billions (with a "B") of dollars were spent on this idea, despite several subtle problems:

* Viewing even a small web page on a screen with 12 lines of text is almost completely useless.

* The per-kilobyte charges some cellphone companies were imposing were the equivalent of something like $100/hour for dialup Internet access.

* Very few people actually wanted to surf the web from their cellphones in the first place.

In the last year, we've come full circle: the cellphone companies are once again selling gigantic Internet-enabled cellphones and expensive data plans with the hope of getting us to surf the web by the minute. Of course, everything is different now. Now we have better displays (in color even), and instead of WAP, we've got something called 3G.

3G is approximately the acceleration required to crush a clunky Internet-enabled cellphone in frustration.