Upward Mobility

M, M, Good!

Much-hyped mobile commerce, or m-commerce as it's known, hasn't exactly rocked the business world. Just the thought of hordes of consumers receiving offers and buying products instantly over their cell phones and PDAs wherever they go may induce swooning, but buyers haven't been so enamored of the idea. User habits may evolve, but don't look to 2003 as the year it all takes off.

That doesn't mean m-commerce is at a standstill. Just ask Brian Barry, owner of Hair Bandits hair salon in Tampa, Florida. He signed on for MoBull Messenger, a wireless service that sends school updates and opt-in ads to University of South Florida students. Run in conjunction with Air2Web, a mobile business solutions provider, the program is in its early stages, but Barry is already pleased with the response he's received.

Coupons or discount offers from local businesses are relayed to students' wireless devices for a fee. Hair Bandits maintains a log of inquiries and appointments sparked by the MoBull messages. "You get an immediate response," Barry says. "It's a better way to track your advertising dollar, and it's effective." He did learn that extended week-long promotions were a lot more effective than single-day offers. M-commerce in 2003 will likely look a lot more like Hair Bandits' experience than crowds of consumers hitting "buy" buttons on cell phones.

Picture Perfect
Sony DSC-FX77: The DSC-FX77 is the first Bluetooth-enabled digital camera to hit the market. It can transmit up to 30 feet to other Bluetooth devices like laptops, desktops or phones. Currently available in Europe, the DSC-FX77 or a similar model should make a U.S. appearance before the year is out. Street price: Not yet available.

Not Bad at All
Good Technology's Good G100: A thumb keyboard and a grayscale screen top this Blackberry-like wireless device aimed at the business market. It works with Good Technology's service offerings that allow wireless access to messaging and Web-based applications. Syncs with Microsoft Exchange. Call (888) 7-BE GOOD for pricing.

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This article was originally published in the January 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Upward Mobility.

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