WAP browsers, especially in the early days, were slow and frustrating.Typing long
URLs with the numeric keypad was onerous.WAP pages were often difficult to navigate.
Most WAP sites were written once for all phones and did not account for individual
phone specifications. It didn’t matter if the end-user’s phone had a big color screen or a
postage stamp-sized monochrome one; the developer couldn’t tailor the user’s experience.
The result was a mediocre and not very compelling experience for everyone involved.
Content providers often didn’t bother with a WAP site and instead just advertised
SMS short codes on TV and in magazines. In this case, the user sent a premium SMS
message with a request for a specific wallpaper or ringtone, and the content provider sent
it back. Mobile operators generally liked these delivery mechanisms because they
received a large portion of each messaging fee.
WAP fell short of commercial expectations. In some markets, such as Japan, it flourished,
whereas in others, like the United States, it failed to take off. Handset screens were
too small for surfing. Reading a sentence fragment at a time, and then waiting seconds
for the next segment to download, ruined the user experience, especially because every
second of downloading was often charged to the user. Critics began to call WAP “Waitand Pay.”
Finally, the mobile operators who provided the WAP portal (the default home page
loaded when you started your WAP browser) often restricted which WAP sites were
accessible.The portal allowed the operator to restrict the number of sites users could
browse and to funnel subscribers to the operator’s preferred content providers and
exclude competing sites.This kind of walled garden approach further discouraged thirdparty
developers, who already faced difficulties in monetizing applications, from writingapplications.