The Grab For A Wireless Future

Mobile Web players are gambling billions to stay in the game

MobilCom seemed to have a knack for spotting the next big thing. The German upstart swept into mobile telephony in 1992 just as the market was taking off. Five years later it was among the first companies to list on the Neuer Markt. MobilCom's shares rocketed in value, turning founder Gerhard Schmid into a billionaire. And last summer, when Germany auctioned off coveted high-speed wireless licenses, Schmid and partner France Telecom landed one. The cost? A mind-blowing $7.5 billion--more than three times the company's 2000 revenues. And where is the stock today? Quick, look it up on your WAP.

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