It’s no secret to most in the tech world, or the rest of the first world, that mobile is going to be the industry that defines how we use the Internet this year and likely on into the decade.
After the 2011 holiday season, hundreds of millions of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets have spilled into the market. Mobile platforms have been popularized at an incredible speed as prices continue to fall and the Holy Grail device – one that will wrap your entire digital life into one item – doesn’t seem too far away.
The proliferation of mobile devices has resulted in more varied use of the platform, including online shopping.
Online merchants crushed expectations and raked in $37 billion in revenue. Of those purchases, 7% were made from a mobile device (90% chance it was an iOS device). Many of those sales can be attributed to mobile apps, but people also purchased real-life goods on their mobile devices. eBay even set up pop-up shops filled with mobile devices for customer use designed to catch shoppers in the wild and pull more dollars through their online interface. With mobile shopping expected to grow in 2012, developers are working on ways to more intricately tie digital sales with the real world. The most promising step towards that is Near Field Communication.
The technology, called NFC for short, is essentially a radio protocol for smartphones that will allow transactions to take place between two devices with a simple tap.
Google is spearheading the movement; their premier product, dubbed Google Wallet, is the product of a partnership with Citibank, Samsung, and a handful of trendsetting retailers to make digital wallets a reality. The Nexus S 4G is the only official NFC equipped phone currently on the market and Wallet is only compatible with Citi cards for the time being. One of the more impressive attributes about the technology is its ability to fit into Google’s commerce ecosystem, making it able to apply deals from Google Offers and triangulate prices through Google Shopper – helping the consumer get the most up to date, discounted prices.
Google won’t be the only game on the block for long, though.
From USA TODAY:
AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have partnered to create Isis, a virtual wallet and payment system, set to launch in 2012. ISIS will be open to all merchants, banks and carriers, according to its website. Isis aims to “eliminate the need to carry cash, credit cards and debit cards, reward cards, coupons, tickets and transit passes,” the website states.
Verifone has also recently completed its acquisition of Point, a company that provides payment services that make NFC technology possible.
“The acquisition gives us a great footprint with European merchants to introduce and integrate NFC in alternative payments with existing infrastructure,” said Pete Bartolik, a spokesman for Verifone. “We have an intense focus on mobile payment at this point in time. We are working with all traditional and alternative players in the space to find ways to utilize mobile technology and payments.”
Digital wallets will open up new doors for mobile marketing and cultivate the increasingly popular mobile commerce ecosystem that is finding its footing early on in 2012. We can expect mobile manufacturers to be rolling out NFC equipped models very soon in the year. (Many Apple enthusiasts are wringing their hands about whether the iPhone 5 will include the technology.) When these phones arrive, we will see just how powerful the platform is and how it will affect digital industries like advertising, marketing and retail.
About Thomas Stone
Thomas Stone is a contributing author at technected.com