Leading the Wireless Charge

NEW YORK — One of the most important new developments for the online industry will be the emergence of wireless access, as this will make Internet usage more accessible, convenient and frequent.

Since many areas of Asia do not have an extensive landline telephony infrastructure, numerous nations over the past several years have made the development of wireless communication capabilities a priority. So, while PC penetration rates are lower across Asia than the United States and Europe, mobile phone penetration for much of Asia is greater.

New technologies are rapidly bringing Web access to wireless devices such as mobile phones. By next year, mobile phones will offer download speeds three to five times faster than what PC connections offer today.

The Gartner Group, Stamford, CT, estimates that by 2003 32.7 percent of mobile users will be in Asia, a greater number than that of the United States and of Western Europe. Currently there are more than 10 million people in Japan getting Internet access via their mobile phone and more than 2,000 Japanese sites created for viewing via wireless phones.

DoubleClick Japan is already experimenting with selling and delivering advertising for this new format. Consequently, Asia will very likely set the standards in wireless Internet communication for the rest of the world as both publishers and advertisers in Asia are in the process of jumping into this medium with both feet.

Asia currently may have a smaller online user base than the United States and Europe, but its fast becoming an important market for several reasons.

First, Asia has the fastest growing economies and Web usage rates in the world.

Second, over the past year, entrepreneurs and established companies throughout Asia have taken to the Web by storm, and access to a myriad of capital and proven business models from the West have led to an explosion of Web activities and start-ups.

Third, the online landscape in Asia is made up of countries in different stages of development. Japan and South Korea already offer huge opportunities, while others such as China are advancing rapidly.

Finally, the emergence of wireless Internet will greatly affect the growth and usage of online media. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in Asia, where the existence of state-of-the-art wireless networks and strong mobile-phone user bases will drive the innovation and standardization of this important development.

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