Some months ago I reviewed seven commercialised IT technologies. They are Skype, Flash, SMS, Bluetooth, i-Mode and Windows CE. As an IT lawyer it’s essential to understand the functionality, commercialisation and revenue streams of IT technologies.

Here are overviews of seven IT technologies commercialised recently.


P2P telephony

Skype uses a proprietary protocol, it is not open source software.

Skype is an illustration of P2P (peer-to-peer) technology at work. Music applications of P2P are discussed in Learn to love P2P filesharing.

Rather than the more traditional server-client model, it uses the Skype user directory is entirely decentralised and is distributed among the nodes in the network. There are versions of Skype operating for Microsoft Windows [2000, XP and CE (Pocket PC)], Mac OS X and GNU/Linux.

eBay acquired Skype in October 2005 for €1.9 billion in cash and stock, plus an additional €1.5 billion in rewards (earn out) if goals are met by 2008.


multimedia software


On 12 February 2006 at the 3GSM World Congress Adobe announced that the next version of its Flash Lite software for mobile devices will support video. The ability of Flash to stream and display video seamlessly across multiple operating systems and web browser types has been critical to the explosion of video online, in particular on YouTube and MySpace which both use the Flash video format.

Adobe is hoping to extend its position in video from desktop to mobile devices. However that market is fragmented  and Blackberries and Palm Treos do not support Flash Lite.

Nonetheless “The number of Flash-enabled devices sold worldwide tripled in 2006 to reach more than 200 million,” reports Richard Martin at Unstrung, adding that “120 million devices running Flash shipped last year, representing 12% of the mobile phone market.”

SMS – messaging

The first SMS message was sent in December 1992 from a PC to a mobile phone. Europe, Korea and other parts of Asia adopted it readily. For its speedy adoption it helped that there wasn’t in those regions the paging network infrastructure that was present in the US. Also, in the US until recently inter-carrier messaging was not possible.

SMS traffic exceeds 25 billion messages per month worldwide, at an average fee of US$0.10 per message.

Bluetooth – networking

Bluetooth allows devices to share information over a maximum range of 100 metres. Originally conceived by Ericsson in 1994, Bluetooth was first introduced in 1998.

Bluetooth is now built into many new notebook and hand-held systems, desktop or laptop computers, printers and other peripherals, digital cameras, game consoles and mobile phones. An advantage of Bluetooth is that devices using it do not need to be pointing at each other to share information.

Wi-Fi – networking

Wi-Fi uses the same radio frequencies as Bluetooth, but with higher power consumption resulting in a stronger connection.

Vic Hayes was the primary inventor of Wi-Fi in 1991 at NCR Corporation/AT&T (later Lucent & Agere Systems) in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands.

Wi-Fi is a global standard. It allows local area networks (LANs) to be set up and expanded within a certain range but without cabling and typically at lower costs. Some gaming consoles (eg Microsoft Zune and PlayStation 3 premium model) and handhelds also make use of Wi-Fi technology to enhance the gaming experience.

Among the disadvantages, Wi-Fi can be interrupted by other devices, notably 2.4 GHz cordless phones and microwave ovens.

i-mode – Internet and messaging

NTT DoCoMo launched the i-mode mobile phone and wireless Internet service in February 1999 in Japan. In contrast with WAP, which uses WML on top of a specific protocol stack for wireless handheld devices, i-mode borrows from fixed Internet data formats such as C-HTML based on HTML, as well as DoCoMo proprietary protocols ALP (HTTP) and TLP (TCP, UDP).

i-mode is a patented technology. DoCoMo has licensed i-mode for operation in 10 countries. Its partner in Australia is Telstra, though Telstra has all but lost interest and now talks largely about NextG.

As of 30 June 2006, i-mode had 46.8 million customers in Japan and by the end of the 2006 calendar year it had over 6 million in the rest of the world. The number of emails sent per subscriber of i-mode in Japan exceed the standards of Europe or the US where, until recently, mobile email was hardly known beyond the Blackberry.

Windows CE – PDA operating system

In the 1990s the Palm personal digital assistant (PDA) owned the hand-held computer sector, with almost 80% of the market.

Microsoft came hunting for market share in the PDA market. It released Pocket PC and then followed with something better, Windows CE. Then with two upgrades to Windows CE Microsoft reached the point of being in competition head to head with Palm.

This post has briefly overviewed aspects of seven newish IT technologies that seem worth understanding and monitoring. It’s a random list. I’d welcome news of others which are screamingly important in your view.

[2011 update: Telstra subsequently phased out its i-Mode service.]

Noric Dilanchian