Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wireless Bug is a Feature, But Not for Users

Sometimes "bugs" are "features;" the issue being "for whom" it is a feature. One end user "bug" is a bandwidth-saving feature for a mobile provider. Specifically, BlackBerry emails that strip out HTML links, saving as much as an order of magnitude (10 times) the bandwidth required if full HTML were displayed.

"If you are a Blackberry user, you are familiar with the fact that emails containing HTML links don’t display the graphics, but rather cause you to have to scroll down past that jibberish HTML text," says Seeking Alpha author Anton Wahlman. "It’s ugly and annoying, but those of us who are engineering-minded know the reason we have to suffer through this sub-optimal experience: bandwidth."

"By stripping each email of all of those colors and pictures, less bandwidth is utilized," says Wahlman.

This goes to the heart of Blackberry’s main argument to the carriers, such as T-Mobile USA and AT&T. Unlike other email-capable handhelds, Blackberries provide for a more predictable, and lower, bandwidth utilization.

Other devices, such as Apple's iPhone (AAPL), are making some people expect that email on the handheld will incorporate HTML just like it does on the PC.

Blackberry is supposed to be enabling that feature this summer. If there are more than 10 million U.S. Blackberry users, receiving probably 100 emails per day, or one billion emails, the amount of wireless bandwidth needed to support those emails will more than double the average size of the messages.

Fixing the "bug" will also mean eliminating a mobile network provider "feature."

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