Mobile Commerce: Overview
Mobile commerce (M-commerce, M-business)—any E-commerce done in a wireless environment, especially via the Internet
– Can be done via the Internet, private communication lines, smart cards, etc.
– Creates opportunity to deliver new services to existing customers and to attract new ones
Mobile Internet, being the infrastructure of mobile-commerce, was launched in May 1999.The number of users rapidly rose to 29.87 million in December 2003 and it is estimated to rise up to 38 million by the end of this year. Mobile or wireless networking has shown an entire new way for business companies to extend their supply chains to Mobile commerce involves the use of mobile computing devices in carrying out different types of economics transactions or enabling then to take place over space and time. You can think Mobile commerce or simply M-commerce, and extension to the functionalities of E-commerce and thus it further explores the supply Management system. To previously unexplored dimensions. With mobile applications, and systems will be accessible anywhere, anytime by wide range of devices like PCs, PDAs, TVs or Cell Phones.
Opportunities for M-Commerce
E-Commerce continues to see phenomenal growth, but mostly within wired infrastructures.
Emerging wireless and mobile networks will provide new avenues for growth, creating new opportunities for mobile commerce.
The exponential growth of wireless and mobile networks has brought vast changes in mobile devices, middleware, development, standards, network implementation, and user acceptance
The real essence of M-Commerce revolves around the idea of reaching and serving supplies and customers regardless of where they are located and what is the time. It is just like imparting a right piece of information to the right place at right time. In fact, the convergence of enterprise applications, wireless technology and the Internet has so much flexibility to m-commerce. Some of the distinct attractions of m-commerce are:
Mobile devices provide access everywhere and every time to business entities. In this sense, M-Commerce makes a service or an application available wherever and whenever such a need arise.
Some wireless service providers support simultaneous transmission of data to all the mobile devices within a specific territory. This functionality offers an efficient method of disseminating information to a larger number of customers.
Since mobile devices are portable, they provide the flexibility to the mobile users to be engaged in different activities like parties, official meetings or traveling while conducting transactions or receiving information through the device.
Such a gigantic number of information, services and applications are currently, available on the Internet and the pertinence of information that users receive is of immense importance. Since mobile users often require different sets of applications and services, M-commerce applications can be personalized to deliver information or service in different ways to the specific user.
TECHNOLOGIES THAT HAVE BOOSTED MOBILE COMMERCE
Mobile commerce will not grow until the necessary enabling technologies are not developed and deployed. The technologies growing M-commerce include network Technologies, Service Technologies, Mobile Middleware, Mobile Location Technologies, M-Commerce Terminals and content and format Bluetooth applications.
Among then the most important one is the integration of low-level digital carriers to the IP-based services through WAP. This integration technology is expected to provide one of the fastest growing markets of E-business and it will involve the development and design of a host of new applications, services, business mobiles and technological solutions for mobile device. Given below are some of the key technologies that brought M-Commerce to life.
GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication)
DSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) is the prevailing mobile standard in Asia-Pacific region and Europe. It also serves as the backbone of other network technologies like HSCSD (High Speed Circuit Switched Data) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service, available in Pakistan). The large adoption of GSM makes it feasible to develop innovative services and applications.
WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)
WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) is a global and open standard to mobile solutions, designed specially to transmit Internet information to a mobile terminal / device. WAP is an end-to-end application protocol that provides the solution to the challenges in developing mobile applications such as connecting mobile device to the Inter making mobile terminals communication devices with the capability of communication with other devices over a wireless medium.
Named after a 10th century Danis king, Bluetooth is a low power radio technology for data exchange and communication. It was developed to remove cabling and infrareds within a 10-meter diameter. It uses a small chip built into the main circuitry and provides an inexpensive short-range wireless medium. Bluetooth is becoming famous and common in latest mobile terminals, PDA’s Laptops and PC’s while providing an efficient link between devices.
SMS (Short Messaging Service)
SMS (Short Messaging Service) enables the mobile user to send and receive text messages up to 160 to (200 in some networks) Alpha numeric characters per message. Widely used in Asia, SMS provides mobile information services such as news, stock quotes, sports and weather.
GPS (Global Positioning System)
GPS (Global Positioning System) is a system of satellites rotating around the earth. GPS calculates the geographic locations with great accuracy because of satellites that continuously broadcast their position and direction. GPS was originally developed for DoD (Department of Defense, USA) but now used in civilian applications like car tracking systems.
WML (Wireless Markup Language)
WML (Wireless Markup Language) has been derived from XML and specifically developed for WAP. It allows the information to be represented as cards (comprises of HTML like tags) suitable for display on mobile device.
XML (Extensible Markup Language)
XML (extensible Markup Language) is designed to communicate the meaning of data trough a self-describing mechanism that is why it is also known as meta language. For XML complaint information systems, data can be exchanged directly even between organizations that run different operating systems or even use different genres of devices. XML is to WAP what HTML is to the Internet.
As described above, due to the enabling technologies, M-Commerce has a potential to make information flow more efficient and rapid. Described below are the ways through which enterprises can challenges of M-Commerce.
Mobile email serves as the key application for wireless data usage. It serves as the primary communication medium for corporate user to stay in touch with their organizations while on the move. With a laptop, a GSM mobile and a connection adapter, corporate users can easily access their corporate mail server. Together with mobile e-mail, Mobile Internet enables sales professional and customer care personal to access market information. Check customer feedback, track orders, report problems and identity any location anywhere and anytime.
Automated and unassisted op operations and services can be provided to the customers through M-Commerce. For instance in some locations, FedEx courier services use personalizes wireless devices to track shipment and its customer can determine the estimated delivery time or the parcel status trough their mobile phone or PDA.
A customer interaction channel that aggregates content and services for mobile users.”
Ø Charge per time for service or subscription based
§ Example: I-Mode in Japan
Ø Mobile corporate portal
§ Serves corporations customers and suppliers
Mobile Enterprise Implementations
M-Commerce can be found very useful in the management of workflow and streamline inventory and distribution control. For instance, Bluetooth devices are ideal for inventory control systems. Bluetooth devices can replace manual connections and connect and communicate spontaneously. They instantly connect, are easy to handle and provide fast data sharing.
Support of Mobile Employees
By 2005 25% of all workers could be mobile employees sales people in the field, traveling executives, telecommuter, consultants working on-site, repair or installation employees need same corporate data as those working inside company’s offices.
– solution: wireless devices
Wearable devices: cameras, screen, keyboard, touch-panel display.
LIMITATIONS TO M-COMMERCE
The path to success of mobile commerce is not so plain. Technical limitations of mobile devices and wireless communication and business concern complicates the business concern complicate the practical use for M-Commerce. Below are elaborated the challenges confronted by M-Commerce.
Scarcity of Killer Applications
A killer application is “an application that compels to buy to by a platform to use”. For instance, Internet is a killer application that requires you to by a PC for its use. Lack of such applications for M-Commerce is a big hurdle in its propagation.
Due to the inherent vulnerability of wireless environment, users of m-Commerce are more concerned with security issues involved with mobile transaction. M-Commerce users need to be assured that their personal and financial information is secure.
Wireless communication is more prone to security threats than wire communication. Although a number of wireless networks provide an intermediate security technology does not ensure transmission security in the network. In fact, the mobility enjoyed by m-Commerce also raises many more challenges in security tasks.
Today, wireless devices include phones, handheld, laptops, palmtops or car tracking interfaces etc. Although mobile terminals demonstrate a greater mobility and flexibility they are found inferior in many ways as compared to PC’s. the screen is small, the interaction devices like keyboards or track balls make the use much more complicated, the battery time limits the use and access, etc. These drawbacks in mobile devices do not support many applications and transactions and consequently. Limit the propagation of M-Commerce.
Attributes of M-Commerce
v Value-added attributes of m-commerce
Ø Ubiquity—easier information access in real-time
Ø Convenience—devices that store data and have Internet, intranet, extranet connections
Ø Instant connectivity—easy and quick connection to Internet, intranets, other mobile devices, databases
Ø Personalization—preparation of information for individual consumers
Ø Localization of products and services—knowing where the user is located at any given time and match service to them
AREAS OF FUTURE RESEARCH
There always remains a room for perfection in M-commerce, research is the only way. Below are some areas, which I believe, need further discovery.
User Friendly Interfaces:
Unlike the wired computing environment here large computing screens are available, mobile applications have to be operated at small and wearable devices that can only include a small screen. So further research should be made in order to cope with this problem by making voice or pen based interfaces.
The high cost of connection and time and data exchange for mobile device discourage the user to use to use M-Commerce. Agent technologies can really alleviate this problem. M-Commerce users can use agents to look for specific products or services, to look for some merchant, to bargain for product. Interestingly, all this is accomplished without being constantly connected to the network thus saving a lot of expenses.
To improve security in M-Commerce is an important field of research because of the vulnerability of mobile terminals and wireless networks. To achieve security requirements like authentication, non-repudiation, and integrity in M-Commerce, additional security software like certificate, pubic keys, passport must be installed on mobile devices. Although due to the limited computing power of mobile terminals at some point it will be mandatory to configure additional servers to store information, perform security check and payment on behalf of mobile devices.
Mobile Access to Databases
In order to enable user to run the applications on their mobile device without having to maintain a continuous connection from the server and to pay an expensive connection time, at least a part of the database must be able to pre-reside on the mobile device. This can be achieved by adding more memory and the ability of the device to synchronize with the centralizes database server of some change is detected. Further more with the limited power of computing of mobile devices, the execution of queries, processing, and data recovery abilities of the mobile data base system should e improved.
Development of content Delivery Format
Now days, much more attention is paid in order to improve the visual access to web content trough mobile devices as a result of which, WML and CHTML (compact HTML) are explored. As a result of further research Voice (1.0 specification, Presented by Motorola has also come into light, which is a new markup language for creating voice-user interface to web applications since most of the mobile devices can be built with voice capabilities, further enhancement should be made to combine voice, screen and key access to web. This can be implemented trough the integration of voiceXML with wireless markup language (WML).
The DoCoMo’s Case
$400m worth m-commerce revenues generated in Japan annually.
NTT DoCoMo’s i-Mode service had over 13 million subscribers. This service allows users to send and receive email and gives them access to more than 7,000 Internet sites via their mobile phones.
NTT DoCoMo is the world’s second largest mobile phone operator and a subsidiary of telecom’s giant NTT.
US Internet giant AOL struck a deal with DoCoMo and took control of its Japanese subsidiary to gain access to the i-Mode service.
“NTT DoCoMo realised the importance and potential of the [mobile Internet] … We had a leader to develop this market,” said Akira Sato, Japanese Internet consultant explaining the m-commerce boom in Japan.
Mobile commerce has the potential to significantly impact E-Business. Though there are a number of technical, social and regulatory challenges to overcome, mobile terminal will continue to develop and incorporate multiple functionalities in the near future