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March 30, 2009

Mobile ecommerce – a notion or reality?

GLOBAL – Over the weekend I bought a new book on Amazon. This is something that happens quite regularly, but what was different this time was the recommendation for the book came through Twitter. Now, typically I’ll buy books by seeing something online, hearing about it or just browsing. But now, I have my Twitter app on my phone, 1-click ordering on Amazon and whaddya know, a pretty decent Amazon mobile store. So, could I have bought that book on my phone? Thinking about it, I could have.
That I didn’t is neither here nor there, in the context of this post at least. Mobile shopping isn’t a big deal right now, based on circumstantial evidence at least. Searching for the term “Mobile ecommerce” seems to throw up a bunch of results surrounding security. Sure, there must be concerns about buying stuff over your phone (despite the fact it’s probably no less of an issue than buying something from your computer). Certainly though, buying stuff on your phone isn’t a common phenomena.

It’s not one that’s appealed to me much in the past either. Why would I bother browsing and buying something on my phone, when I could do it much more effortlessly on my computer. By the way, I’m talking here about buying real physical products from real physical retailers over your phone, as opposed to the kind of offering from NGage or Ovi Store.

But times, as ever, are a changing. Thanks to Guy Kawasaki’s recommendation on Twitter, I found (and am now looking forward to reading) a book I hadn’t heard about previously. Twitter, for me, is mobilising a whole section of the Internet, giving me a way to access and find information typically hidden under virtual rocks. And it’s doing more than just mobilising it. It’s making it easier for me to access that information on my phone. Amazon too, for some time I’m sure, is doing it’s bit to make it easier. I’ve just set up (for the process of experiment relating to this article) my 1-click ordering on my phone. Next step is to actually use it.

Last week Lloyds TSB, one of the major high street banks in the UK, launched a new mobile service. Along with free alerts when your account goes over (or under) a certain limit, users can get information on their account, transfer money between accounts and top up your mobiles. Designed more as an information service, you can’t actually transfer money out of your account or pay bills, it seems (we haven’t tested it yet, but will). Security issues again? Perhaps. What matters here though is that it’s a dedicated mobile banking app. For some around the world, the phone is the only place they can do any form of Internet-based banking, yet in the UK at least, it’s still considered a novel idea worthy of news coverage.

It might just be me, but the concept of mobile ecommerce could now be rapidly evolving from one where security is the big thing to one where we start to adopt and embrace it. It’s certainly given me some food for thought and I think my next train journey could well cost more than the price of a ticket, and involve an amazon delivery on my return. Am I alone here?

Photo by s2art