Mobile electronic commerce is poised to be the largest disruptive innovation since the popularization of the Internet. Wikipedia defines a disruptive innovation as, "innovation(s) that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect". The slow migration from the basic cell phone to the smartphone is certain to change the way we purchase products and services in the coming years.
If Alexander Graham Bell was alive today, he no doubt would be amazed at how his invention of a wired bi-directional voice transmission device would has been transformed into the most prominent computing platform available today. Yes, I refer to it as a computing platform because the smartphone of today is likely more powerful than many of the computers that guided many of our early space missions.
Putting that kind of power in the hands of millions of individual consumers is bound to change how our society functions. And we are just starting to see the transitions take place. In the following points we will review some of that disruptive technology in the mobile market and how it has the potential to change our society.
Mobile Commerce and Banking
Mobile Commerce began in 1997, when two Coca-Cola machines setup in Helsinki, Finland allowed payment via a SMS message from a phone. Since this first foray into the mobile commerce market, many countries have accepted this form of payment. It is predicted that by 2015, $119 billion dollars in transactions will be made annually in this form.
Mobile Banking allows individuals to perform balance checks, payments, and deposits via a smartphone. USAA and PNC Bank are two prominent financial organizations that allow customers to deposit checks into their account simply by photographing the check and sending the image via applications running on their smartphones.
Near Field Communication and Bump Technology
Near field communications (NFC) is a technology that allows communication between two devices with similarly equipped radio chips. This technology is expected to be installed in all future smartphones to allow such capabilities, such as electronic commerce, credit card payments, identification, and electronic ticketing.
Bump technology allows two smart phones to exchange data between them by simply bumping the phones together when running the applications that support this new technology. While one would first assume that the data is passed directly from one phone to the next, that is simply is not the case. Actually, this technology works by using the phones’ Global Positioning System (GPS) and accelerometer (motion sensor). When the phones bump, a package of information is sent via the phones data plans, which includes the information to be sent and the GPS coordinates. This implies to the Bump server that one phone would like to transmit a message to another and the send phone’s complimentary Bump is an acceptance that it wishes to receive the message.
Using an algorithm that runs on a cloud based Bump server, the server receives the bump messages from the two different phones which are in close proximity and within a very narrow time frame. If the algorithm can match the Bump request and acceptance, it will exchange the message between the devices. If it cannot match the specific two messages with any kind of certainty; for example if there are more than two phones attempting to transmit at the same time in the same area, the phones are simply asked to try again. As you can imagine, mobile payments is not too far away with technology such as this.
These technologies are just the beginning; as more companies are researching and developing new innovative ways to expand the capabilities of the ever increasing smartphone market. It is very likely that the next decade(s) will become the era of smartphone innovation, in as much as the past two decades have been the era of the modern personal computer.