Though lately many have been predicting commercial doom for Wi-Fi, others say it is here to stay and that workers on the road will drive boom:
- Is the Wi-Fi boom about to bust? Even though that has lately become the fashionable view, the answer is probably no.
Critics argue that there are too many competitors trying to deliver high-speed wireless connections to the Internet. Prices for most commercial Wi-Fi services are too high, they say, and free or subsidized operations abound, including those like the one McDonald’s started rolling out last week at its fast food restaurants in San Francisco.
….a number of true believers in Wi-Fi were present at this mountain resort during an annual conference, organized by the investment banker Herbert Allen, that brings together technology, media and entertainment industry leaders. The Intel Corporation in particular is betting a lot of money on Wi-Fi. And that may be exactly what the new technology needs to succeed.
….The Wi-Fi standard was developed and commercialized at Apple Computer as early as 1999. Ultimately, though, it gained widespread popularity on its own, Mr. Barrett acknowledged in an interview here, as a grass-roots, from-the-bottom-up movement.
That success stands in striking contrast to top-down wireless data strategies, like the 3G cellular approach pushed by the telecommunications industry, which has so far been an expensive bust.
Mr. Barrett now says that people who predict a Wi-Fi shakeout are missing the point, as well as failing to see the deeper implications of the technology.
“What is missing is the realization of how many legs this technology has,” he said.
….There is now an explosion of Wi-Fi hot spots in hotels, coffee shops, restaurants and airports, and a new wave of hand-held gadgets will soon supplement portable personal computers for a class of mobile workers that analysts are calling windshield warriors.
….There are now about 40 million Wi-Fi users, he said, and new access points are selling at the rate of about 15,000 a day, which makes Wi-Fi a much faster-growing technology than cellular telephony.
….”We think the next big stage of this business will be the `windshield warrior,’ ” he said, a term that encompasses millions of blue collar and white collar workers, from traveling sales representatives to delivery and repair workers, who now need to check electronic mail and use the Internet on the job. [NY Times]