Whoops! Someone Misunderstood WIPI

P2PNet.net News presented a story regarding the WIPI protocol in Korea, comparing it to the WAPI protocol in China. The story suggested that both homegrown standards are destroying the standardization of WiFi. The problem is, WIPI from Korea has nothing to do with WiFi, but in fact is related ONLY to data platforms on mobile phones. The danger is that a number of other blogs are picking up the P2PNet story and reproducing it in all it’s incorrectness. So here’s the real scoop on WIPI: WIPI (Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability) is a very attractive platform for mobile phone carriers. Similar to Qualcomm’s BREW, it allows them to abstract the data services (ringtones, games, video, photos, mobile Internet, etc.) from the phone’s proprietary OS, and instead treat all vendor’s WIPI phones as a homogeneous platform (the old ‘write once, run anywhere concept’). WIPI is also an open standard, not controlled by any one company, which is attractive to Korean wireless carriers who want to minimize royalty payments, many of which go to San Diego. Naturally, this put a bee in Qualcomm’s bonnet, since a government requirement for WIPI would force BREW out of the market. There are a lot of benefits to WIPI, but heavy-handed government interference is dirty pool in international trade. So there are ongoing talks between US and Korean diplomats regarding WIPI. The Korean government is saying that Qualcomm should build BREW to comply with WIPI, which is like telling Apple that the Mac OS should be designed to run on top of Wintel. Who is right? They both are: WIPI is great, but Qualcomm deserves the spoils of being first to win a free market. But by and large, it’s my opinion that governments should keep their fumbling fat fingers out of free markets. If governments can successfully screw up the global markets for something as complicated as grain or lumber (and by Thor, they do) then surely they will only do harm to global technology markets.

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