Ok, so I came a little late to the mobile commerce game. I’ll admit it, I didn’t think too much about it, good or bad, until one day my partner sent out a video clip to our managers. Here it is:
As usual, we had a good discourse related to what we could learn about our customers from the video, how we could adjust accordingly, how funny it was, and so forth. As I pondered the issue, strangely, my mind made its way to mobile and my eyes began to open.
As I watched the Google survey video I wondered why one would care if a person knew what a browser is, unless they were selling a browser. It is obvious everyone interviewed knew how to get online and do their version of surfing, even if they couldn't delineate between a browser and a search engine. If you asked 50 people what a graphical user interface is, most commonly referred to as a GUI, there might be 8% who know the answer, even though every one of them may use a GUI effectively every day. I would also guess a majority of Twitter users couldn't define "micro-blogging" if asked on the street. Maybe in our technology bubble we think some things are important that just aren't.
Maybe we shouldn't assume it's important that our customers know what our tools are, such as a browser vs. a search engine, but rather how to extract value from them. Even better yet, instead of wanting them educated so they can better see the value and get the value as we deliver it today, we should find better ways to bring them the value in ways they already understand, and are comfortable with. You know, like getting a movie on demand in my living room rather than having to go to the theater. Enter mobile commerce. I bet 100% of people reading this know what an iPhone is. So Apple doesn't care if 92% don't know how it works or what the components are called.
As I’ve continued to ponder the notion of reaching into our customer’s environment in a comfortable way, rather than pulling them into ours, I’ve refined my vision of mobile. This thought line, in part, spawned a new business that is currently in development at Gordian Project. Although not ready for release, we believe it’s a visionary blend of e-commerce, m-commerce, the social web, and time tested marketing techniques. I say visionary because it’s definitely not the opportunistic reaction we see in the “mobile version of your site” tools of today. If you don’t know the difference, read Mark Goulston’s post The Opportunist in Visionary’s Clothing. PlumberSurplus.com and OutdoorPros.com are both opportunistic and now we’re going to take a gamble at visionary. We’re going to assume that because a cell phone can display a traditional web site doesn’t mean that is how a cell phone user wants us to inject our value into their mobile environment. Injecting the same tools in a new environment is opportunistic; using new tools in this new environment can be visionary.
I wrote this post today because I got some encouraging news. Those assuming the opportunistic move to provide the traditional web on a smaller screen are finding little traction. Here’s the news: App Publishing offers retailers low-cost entry into m-commerce. So mPoria has stagnated in nowheresville and it’s too soon to tell if Mobile Store Maker is making a materially better effort at it. This gives me reason to believe our approach will be a little less of a gamble. There’s your teaser, be on the lookout for more…