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Data in Motion



Data in Motion

Every few years several separate technologies reach the point where a product that packs them successfully together defines something altogether new. That point has now arrived for pocket-size boxes and high-speed wireless data services. This market is going to be huge. Providers of suitably configured hardware, bandwidth and content are going to prosper.

Time and again the digital landscape was transformed by a product that did nothing new at all; it just did two or more old things for the price of one, twice as fast, in a package one-half the size.

Most of the time the revolutionary new package started out as a curiosity. Five years later 50 million Americans couldn't live without it on their desk, in their pocket or in the dashboard of their car. It had become a fixture of daily life, and we could only dimly remember how we had once managed without it.

A few weeks ago I got an early chance to play with Verizon's VX8000 whatchamacallit. It looks like just another fancy phone. But, powered by the company's high-speed data network, it can download and run video news clips, sports and weather on demand or dispatch personal versions of the same from its built-in camera and videocam. It does fast instant messaging, e-mail, chat rooms, general Web-browsing and interactive games. If you're stranded at O'Hare late one night and are looking for a live poker game, you can find one here. This gadget will end up carrying far more data than voice.

The fusion of handheld computer and high-speed wireless connectivity is compelling, and the technology is ready. In these circumstances companies [and investors! -- Ed.] with patience and staying power are all but certain to profit handsomely.

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