Although it remains to be seen whether PriceWaterhouseCoopers prediction that e-commerce sales would reach $10.2 billion in 2000—up nearly 100 percent from $5.2 billion in 1999—has come to pass, another holiday online shopping season has entered the accounting ledgers, and preliminary reports indicate it was a good one—for those dotcoms that survived.
One thing is certain: Only a miniscule number of online orders were placed via wireless devices.
A study by Boston Consulting Group late last year found that fewer than one-third of wireless device owners in the United States had tried mobile online purchasing and that one in five of those that did try quit after only a few attempts.
The prices for cell phone Internet access are too high, data input is difficult, and the screens are too small, leaving wireless personal digital assistants as the preferred m-commerce device.
Given the limited bandwidth of wireless devices, the wireless services that will gain the most ground this year are those that provide access to simple, time-sensitive information, allowing us to check airline schedules, stock quotes and bank balances; to order tickets; and to read short news stories.
However, the current limitations of wireless devices wont stop the big m-commerce push this year, and one m-commerce trial has far-reaching implications.
SkyGo, a market research company, is studying the effects of pushing marketing messages to cell phone users. The project is designed to provide advertisers, credit card companies and wireless carriers with statistical data on cell phone users acceptance of advertising.
SkyGo is testing various types of campaigns, such as prompting consumers to call for reservations, request additional information via e-mail, engage in interactive trivia and polls, or try one-click purchasing.
Talk about a captive audience. Push advertising takes over your cell phones whole screen with whatever message is being delivered whenever the advertiser chooses.
Unless push advertisers offer free cell phones and services, cell phone users will be no more receptive to push advertising than computer users were. Just ask PointCast.