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Editor's Note: The Joy of Geeking Out

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This story appears in the January 2012 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Amy C. CosperBefore we go any further than this page, I must confess something. The word dongle cracks me up. Not a big deal in the scheme of things, I suppose, but since this month's cover story is about mobile commerce, dongles figure prominently in these pages. Each and every time I read through the issue, I laugh like a Beavis and Butt-Head-schooled imbecile. Sometimes at the end of the day I find myself randomly calling people "dongle berries," which, while childish, feels satisfying. So there you have it. Confession made. Let's move on.

In case you're wondering, a dongle (stop it) refers to the plug-in technology that turns a smartphone into a point-of-sale device. It's the magic behind services offered by Square, Pay Anywhere and App-Ninjas--three of the companies grabbing market share from this quickly evolving market (profiled in Jennifer Wang's story). To get a sense of the size and growth trajectory of this nascent market, consider that in 2011 mobile commerce sales hit $5.3 billion, up 83 percent from the previous year. Any time growth is up 83 percent, attention is absolutely required.

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