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Despite the relative ease of integration and rapid production, On the Go hit a few minor technological roadblocks. The largest potential problem, McCarthy says, was designing a system that could deliver the same content to the many different wireless platforms. “We accounted for this by isolating our backend services from the various presentation formats,” he says. “We use an XML engine as a common data source for all devices rather than integrating each device into our backend data individually. Although we have to maintain the different presentations, we only have to maintain one integration point.”
The wireless site is integrated directly into the same SQL Server database as the regular site. No new software or hardware was required for the backend of the site, although a couple of new web servers were needed for the front end. Front-end and back-end systems are integrated through XML. While company officials are mum on specifics, they say the site is exceeding sales expectations for the year.
With partners such as Sprint PCS, Verizon Wireless and AT&T, users can access On the Go with Internet-ready phones through not only the URL (mobile.bn.com) but also the browser menus present on the phone itself. “We’re No. 1 under ‘Shopping’ on AT&T,” Albert says. With cell phone use expected to grow from 90 million today to 131 million in 2004, bn.com could be tapping into more than a niche.