Monday, January 02, 2006

Those Born to Shop Can Now Use Cellphones

The New York Times reports that "2006 may finally be the year that consumers start buying goods with their cellphones." Roger Entner at Ovum said, "This will start to show up on the radar screen in 2006. The more different pieces we add to these Swiss Army phones, the easier it is to get user acceptance for the next application. And especially around next Christmas, the convenience of shopping on a computer or a cellphone will beat the mall hands down."

While e-tailers have been creating websites tailored for mobile users for some time now, "these companies overlooked something critical: few consumers owned phones that could render images similar to those displayed on a personal computer." Entner pointed out that "190 million people in the United States have a cellphone, and at least 150 million of those have a color screen."

The article looks at efforts from companies like eBay and to develop apps and services to drive mobile commerce. Some of the issues I see inhibiting the mobile purchasing process are bandwidth, device compatibility and pricing.

Until more folks are on 3G networks, shopping via the handset can be brutally slow. And if it requires a special app, as in the case of eBay, your device might not even be supported. I checked the site of Bonfire Media, which the article mentioned as having developed a special mobile app for eBay users, and my Audiovox SMT-5600 is not yet supported. Oh well, no mobile bidding for me.

Lastly, the article states some network operators in conjunction with e-tailers are charging users activation fees or a monthly service charge just to shop. That kind of convenience just isn't worth it since most Americans have access to PCs and the Internet either at work and/or home.....