First release of Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), a standard for delivering data to mobile phones.
Japan's NTT DoCoMo (NTDMY) introduces i-mode, its own wireless data technology. Grows to nearly 5 million users by yearend. Analysts predict 500 million wireless Web users worldwide by 2003, sparking investment frenzy. Hundreds of wireless startups funded.
Early WAP phones and services are disappointing and sales are slow. "WAPlash" sets in, and startups begin to fold. European operators pledge $100 billion for licenses to build new third-generation (3G) networks, which should be more than 30 times faster than today's systems.
Interim generation mobile service--called 2.5G--set for fall launch in Europe. Will allow faster connection speeds. DoCoMo delays by six months its 3G service, now scheduled for November. More startups fold.
Scattered upgrades to 2.5G in the U.S.; broader rollout in Europe.
3G scheduled to hit Europe and the U.S., but few expect widespread adoption until 2005. Analysts now forecast fewer than 200 million wireless Web users by yearend, although nearly 600 million are expected to use simpler data services such as messaging.
Data: ARC Group, BusinessWeek, and company reports