Supranet links the e-world with the p-world

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Wireless mobile communications mark the start of a new phase in the Internet as it evolves into a supranet, according to Gartner Group.

The supranet is the emerging infrastructure that links the e-world (the world of electronic devices such as computers, phones and televisions) and the p-world (the physical world of paper, houses, people and vehicles).

By 2005, one quarter of Internet applications will be delivered in a supranet, integrating at least three types of media into each interaction. Gartner analysts presented their findings during their Mobile E-Business conference held 11-12 September in Barcelona, Spain.

“Those who treat the arrival of wireless access to the net as just another terminal device to worry about, will find themselves as far behind as those that thought the Internet was not relevant to their industry,” said Simon Hayward of Gartner.

“Wireless opens up a new world of linked interactions using mobile and fixed devices in innovative ways. These are not just phones and PCs, but music players, cameras, map terminals, game machines and more. Building supranet applications will involve linking all of these together, to create new experiences, not just presenting a cut-down web page on a four-line display,” Hayward added.

Some of the earliest forms of the supranet are already emerging. It can be seen in some regions where people use their mobile phone to purchase sodas from a machine, or where a message can be sent by e-mail, and then delivered as postal mail.

Another example of the supranet occurs when an offspring calls a parent from a foreign country where s/he has run out of money. The person goes to an ATM, calls the parent on a mobile phone; the parent authorizes a cash withdrawal, and the ATM dispenses the cash.

“The key to this next stage of Internet evolution will be the design of user experiences, and the applications that underpin them,” said Hayward. “With wireless technologies, the web can dramatically expand its connection to the physical world and thus interconnect ‘sub-networks’ not previously considered as part of the Internet.”

More analysis on the Supranet environment will be presented during Gartner’s Symposium/ITxpo 2000, 16-20 October in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. This event is the IT industry’s largest conference. Some of the speakers at this year’s event include Hewlett-Packard’s CEO, Carly Fiorina; Sun Microsystems’ CEO, Scott McNealy; and Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer.

Gartner Group

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