Mobile Platforms in Retail
By David Dorf-Oracle on Jun 30, 2010
At our recent Crosstalk event, Dave Sikora from Digby talked about mobile commerce and its importance to the retail industry. He started by noting several key trends:
- 3.3 Billion mobile phones in use today: 3 times greater than internet adoption
- More than 65 Million SmartPhones will ship in 2010 in North America (Canalysis)
- 37% of SmartPhone owners purchased merchandise via phones in 2009 (Internet Retailer)
- U.S. mobile commerce sales hit $1.20 billion in 2009 and will grow to $2.42 billion this year and $23.83 billion in 2015 (Internet Retailer)
The world is continuing mobile phone adoption, there's a shift toward smartphones, and commerce via mobile phones is increasing. All this should be leading retailers down the path to mobile commerce.
Digby got its start as a mobile mall application on the Blackberry where consumers could buy products from multiple retailers. But they soon discovered that retailers want more control and therefore prefer their own branded applications.
So this leads retailers to make a few key decisions. Which mobile platforms should be supported: feature phones, smartphones, e-readers, gaming consoles, tablets? If we go down the smartphone path, then which operating system family should be supported? As you can see from the chart below, Apple owns the largest share of the US market, but what you don't see is that Symbian has more market share overseas.
Digby added some data to the conversation, which I graphed below. Looking at the visits across their many mobile retail applications (both native and browser), you can see that Apple, RIMM, and Google account for 92% of their traffic. The other platforms are just noise. (Note that Digby's customers are principally in the US.)
At least for US retailers I think its clear that in order to reach the greatest number of customers, they need a multi-platfom strategy that includes iPhones, Blackberrys, and Android Phones. That can be handled either via a mobile browser, or several native mobile applications. Of course the safest strategy is to cover all the bases.