By now prognosticators and psychics have completed their work and determined that among other things, 2011 will the year of Mobile Commerce. But it isn’t as if such a prediction appeared out of the blue because mobile commerce has long been a reality – in some markets more than others. As we’ve already noted here, smart phone transactions are fast becoming the norm in some African countries. But here in the U.S.A. smart phone users are already purchasing music, books, DVDs, games and movie tickets in the mobile manner. In other cases, brick and mortar retailers such as Barnes & Noble can use their iPhone apps to direct users to nearby stores and also allow them to use the phone to reserve goods which can then be picked up in the store.
In Britain, an eBay purchase via mobile apps is made every two seconds. The app plus mobile store business model is growing by leaps and bounds thanks to such innovations as barcode scanning with apps, and Quick Response (QR) codes – those square barcodes that look like a Rorschach test. Users can compare prices in local and online stores, check availability of library books, check food ingredients at the grocery store and more. QR codes are thought to be a trend all on their own, applicable for everything from advertising to textbooks, where the code can link the user to further information. Of course with so much information always available, we’ll all be that much more dependent on our smart phones rather than on our own brains. Or our brains could be replaced by …. It’ll never happen.