Little Springs Design has a nice overview of mCommerce:
What is mobile commerce? My definition is: commerce-related activities using or aided by your mobile phone.
This suggests segmenting the mobile commerce space by commerce task: research/compare, purchase, delivery/pickup. These commerce tasks can be done using the mobile, using traditional physical processes, or using the desktop.
Users in emerging markets also want to see more value from PC vendors, said Bryan Ma, director of personal systems research at IDC Asia-Pacific, citing the success of Nokia’s 1100 handset, which has been a hit in India because it includes a flashlight — a useful feature in a country that suffers from frequent power outages.
“At the end of the day it’s not the technology or the device, it’s the application people are looking for,” Ma said.
One application that has proven popular in many emerging markets is access to commodity prices, which lets farmers and fishermen know when and where they can get the best prices for their goods. Other popular applications include communications, such as video conferences that allow people to speak face-to-face over the Internet, and access to government services, he said.
David Beers writes:
Mobile computing faces a chasm of usability right now that thin client and browser applications are not going to lift us over. Most people find the user experience of software on their phone to be unacceptable for anything but the simplest tasks. Smarter mobile devices will not gain mainstream traction until that problem is solved, so focusing on ways to get cool online services on peoples’ mobile before you solve this problem can be putting the horse before the cart if you’re not careful.
There are a lot of factors needed to fix the user experience. For now we are seeing that the best accepted applications still need a blend of local and remote storage, offline access to data, and efficient over-the-air synchronization.
Danah Boyd gave a talk recently at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference:
The goal of my talk today is to get at what everyday people are doing with technology and how technology has become a ubiquitous part of everyday life. We often live in a fantasy of “If you build it, they will come.” This techno-centric framing can be helpful to innovation – it allows us to engage our imagination, to go beyond our wildest dreams. But if we look at what technologies are adopted and how, we start to see that they fit into a set of pre-existing practices. They are adopted and adapted by people whose needs or desires they meet. Who are these people? How do we know what matters to them?
In the early days of the Internet, Yahoos directory service was the way we surfed the Web because it was still indexable and classifiable by human editors. But the Web grew too fast for this to last. The first-generation of search engines like Altavista, Lycos, Webcrawler and Excite mirrored the pages on the Web and provided textual search capabilities on the documents. It was good for a short while until spammers figured out how to infiltrate the system. For a while, it seemed we would need to go back to maintaining bookmarks and remembering URLs to go to different sites. And then along come Google with its PageRank technology which enabled search based on the importance of pages as measured by incoming links. Search was back in vogue and has stayed that way ever since.
Search engines are the primary way to navigate the Reference Web. We no longer bookmark sites or even try and remember their URLs; we Google everything. This becomes possible because we trust Google to have made a copy of everything that has been created and appropriately ingested it with its algorithms. Search works very well with the PC screen most of the space is taken up by the results with some relevant ads thrown around. This works great for us, the search engines and the advertisers.
As the Live Web starts to occupy a greater importance in our lives, Search on a PC will no longer be the dominant form of interaction. Instead, I believe it will be Subscriptions delivered to a mobile screen. Let me explain.
The Live Web is about events and incremental information. There are a number of things we would like to know as soon as they happen. In this context, the best way to be alerted is to set up an alert. So, when we want to track something, we can set up a Subscription to that site. All that the site needs to do is to publish its new content via RSS and then ping a central server whenever it gets updated. That central server can also track who all have set up subscriptions for that particular site and therefore can be immediately notified. The mobile is the perfect device to send out an alert to since we can be pretty sure that the user will see the message almost immediately.
In emerging markets like India, access to the PC is still limited, but mobiles (and SMS for now) can reach over 150 million users. Also, even those who access the PC dont do so all the time a majority go to a cybercafes once in a few days. The mobile this becomes the ideal device to send people information about the Live Web.
Search does not become irrelevant for the Live Web. In fact, we will still use Search for things we cannot Subscribe to in advance. My point is that Subscription will be the dominant way we interact with the Live Web just like Search is the primary way we interface with the Reference Web.
With this change in behaviour and device, the business model will also morph.
Tomorrow: From Advertising to Invertising