We have no argument with the notion that a world-wide standard is needed to address the requirements of wireless data applications. However, we believe that WAP is utterly unfit for this purpose. As we have shown in this article, WAP is the result of a closed design process within a members-only club. It remains tightly controlled by the WAP Forum, is crippled by patents, and is riddled with technical design errors. In the long run WAP is doomed to failure. In the short run it can only do harm to the industry and the consumer.
All of this could be the result of a series of colossal blunders by a well-meaning but spectacularly incompetent industry association. However, we do not believe that this is the case. We do not believe that the WAP Forum is well-meaning; on the contrary, we believe that their fundamental motivations are crass financial self-interest, coming at the expense of engineering and business integrity.
The WAP Forum could easily have taken steps to eliminate every one of the criticisms we have leveled against it, yet they have not done so. We invite them to tell us why.
The WAP Forum claim that WAP is an extension of the Internet, and is part of the Internet mainstream. Yet in no way has the development of WAP been consistent with Internet conventions. The specification could have been designed by an open design process, by the straightforward expedient of establishing open working groups and public mailing lists. There is ample precedent for this in the history of Internet protocol development. Yet the WAP Forum has not done so. Why not?
The WAP Forum could have ensured free and permanent availability of the specification by publishing them as RFCs, the mainstream method of publishing Internet protocols, and supported by extensive precedent. Again, they have not done so. Why not?
The WAP Forum could have worked diligently towards the goal of a patent-free protocol, by means of processes with well-understood industry precedent. Once more, they have not done so. Why not?
We can come to only one conclusion: WAP was designed to create unfair market advantage for its developers from the outset. They have maintained strict and close control of the protocol from the beginning, in complete violation of Internet conventions. The WAP Forum members have knowingly and deliberately incorporated their own patents within the specifications, and now are demanding royalties.
We can think of no better way to characterize such a process than as a trap. WAP is far from being an enabling force in the wireless industry. On the contrary, it is a gigantic and poorly-designed red herring created by narrow business self-interests. It is not a genuine engineering construct; it is a bogus marketing one.
A recent quotation from Greg Williams, Chairman of the WAP Forum, provides an excellent illustration of the WAP Forum's preference for members-only processes. Commenting on the recent highly public Geoworks patent infringement claim, he says ,
``Companies in the WAP Forum generally settle licensing and cross-licensing deals between themselves.''