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Signs of Life?

You'll need plenty of patience to profit from m-commerce.

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This story appears in the October 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Mobile commerce (or m-commerce) may be a needle in the haystack of telecommunications and commerce, but it's getting bigger--slowly. The vision for m-commerce looked like this: consumers dialing up to order books and merchandise, the Web on every phone, and restaurant coupons beaming out to buyers. "The hype curve was way ahead of market reality," says Seamus McAteer, senior analyst with San Francisco research firm Zelos Group.

The real opportunities in m-commerce aren't where we thought they'd be a few years ago, and a lot of that has to do with the way American consumers buy products over the Internet. "You're dealing with a research-driven purchaser. Cell phones are about instant gratification and making a social statement. They're not an ideal device for research," says McAteer. People don't want to buy merchandise with their cell phones.

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