Mobile Commerce Set to Grow

Despite sluggish economic growth and numerous reports touting m-commerce's early demise, mobile commerce will thrive, according to a new study from Allied Business Intelligence (ABI). According to the findings in "Mobile Commerce: Analyzing Emerging Opportunities in Technologies, Applications, Markets and Trends," world mobile commerce revenues will reach over $34 billion in 2006, with the U.S. realizing almost a quarter of that total.

"While the current lack of data-capable devices is a major factor in the US and overseas' slow adoption of m-commerce, the lack of compulsory applications is a bigger issue," according to ABI Senior Analyst and report author Frank Viquez. "Many companies are just beginning to initiate their wireless strategies, and in this nascent stage of mobile commerce, they're looking for the most cost-effective means to enter the wireless realm, even at the initial price of worthwhile content. Their primary focus is to establish a wireless presence, so most companies are simply re-purposing their existing Internet-enabled applications. In time, more companies will create original content for wireless applications."

Presently, the only exceptions lie in applications specific to financial institutions with customer-facing applications and enterprises with wireless work force applications. Financial services are currently key enablers for m-commerce, as financial institutions look to capitalize on new distribution channels. Retail banking and stock-trading markets are in the midst of a major move into the wireless space, mirroring their entry into the Internet years ago, and it will be this initial success that promises to springboard mobile commerce into the consumer mainstream.

Profitable markets for content development will progress once subscription to access devices rises significantly, which will follow the introduction of high-speed data networks. Location-based services will also drive the market when they finally emerge.

Ultimately, it will be the consumer that decides the fate of m-commerce. Original over-hyping of the "wireless Internet" has already left deep scars in many a frustrated early adopter, so the promotion of future services will need to be handled properly and honestly.