Roman’s Rants: Mobile Commerce

Today I would give my two cents about the self-perpetuating hype termed Mobile Commerce. Media companies and agencies alike are regularly bursting with excitement regarding what a big thing it already is and will be in the future. What a pile of crap! As if would just take a bit of extra budget to have one’s own app programmed and sent to an app store or to have a new mobile CSS plastered over one’s old onlineshop to reach the golden ages of mobile success!

According to Gartner’s Emerging Technology Analysis from summer 2011, in 2011 there were more than 360 million smartphones and about 70 million tablets sold worldwide. Without wanting to discuss the pros and cons of those types of analyses, let’s just say: it’s a really high number. Apple single-handedly has sold 37 million iPhones and 15 million iPads in the last quarter of 2011. No wonder those numbers put everybody in a flurry, trying frantically to come up with products and services that could be promoted by using those figures.

Enter Mobile Commerce and the reasoning behind it: Hey people, more and more users have a smartphone in their pocket, which is always online and which they use during commute or while being in the doctor’s waiting room. (This bit of the argument actually makes sense.) And while they’re on it, they might research for some products in your online store and buy them right there. So you better make your web presence mobile friendly and you don’t lose this customer.

See, this is where the argument starts to annoy the hell out of me. What if I took my notebook and used it on the train? Is this Mobile Commerce because I’m on the move? Or is this good old ecommerce because I’m not using a smartphone? Or put it the other way round: I sit at my desk and do things with my mobile phone. Which kind of commerce are we talking about here? According to study done by German advertisement network Madvertise, most mobile ads were delivered during prime time, ie. between 8pm and 10pm – which is when normal people are at home, sitting on their couch and watchint TV. Mobility my arse!

The only answer to that is: It’s all commerce, and putting a fucking mobile (or e, f or what have you) in front of it does not make a difference. At best, talking about mobile commerce serves to structure your line of argument when you’re giving a presentation. It’s not a scientific concept, for crying out loud!

But even if I’m travelling with my iPhone: Would I research which types of fridges there are and maybe even buy one straight away? Probably not. Would I use it to catch some news to kill some time? Probably. Would I make use of the fact that my mobile phone knows my position and for example gives me the best places to have a coffee in? Very likely! What I’m trying to get at here is context: You know where I am and which device I’m using, so give me clever solutions and the best user experience you can provide!

(Image by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com)

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