Commentary

Mobile Commerce Forecasting & Consumer Behavior

Predicting mobile commerce trends and developments can sometimes be based on the obvious or apparent.

For example, it’s logical that the number of apps will increase, smartphone cameras will improve and battery life will become more than adequate (well, maybe not that last one).

But a couple of five-year-out predictions by two different entities caught my eye this week.

One predicted that the mass adoption of mobile payments is five years out and the other forecasts that shipments of phone fingerprint readers will pass a billion units five years out.

The mobile payments forecast is based on a survey of 190 banking experts across the globe conducted by Compass Plus, which provides payments software to processors and financial institutions.

Research the company did in 2011 and 2012 showed the mainstream penetration of mobile payments and NFC would reach mass adoption by last year. Ooops.

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The latest survey shows that mass adoption now is five years away. From now, that is.

The fingerprint forecast by Tractica, a research and consulting firm that focuses on user interface technologies, predicts that fingerprint readers in mobile devices will pass a billion units annually by 2021, reaching more than half of all mobile devices by that time. 

This year, next year and the next year? Not so much.

Forecasts based on interviews with the people responsible for delivering features and technologies such as payments or fingerprint scanning to mobile consumers or based on past and current shipments of certain technologies can be challenging, to say the least.

The major catch in most research involving mobile commerce is the unknown of the future mobile behavior of the consumer.

For the most part, the mobile consumer will drive everything that happens at any kind of mass scale in mobile commerce.

The technologies will continue to come and go and the consumer will decide when and where each one hits mass scale.

Mobile commerce is not about the technology as much as it is about the behavior. And that is hard to predict.

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