My September 18 short blog post pointed to the app market, which is now thriving thanks to the ubiquity of wireless broadband. Of course, sophisticated smartphones and other mobile devices are just as critical to these developments than the data networks and infrastructure facilities.
Data just released by comScore sheds some light on the centrality of smartphones to the expansion of mobile commerce—sometimes know simply as "M commerce." "From Brick-and-Mortar to Mobile Click-and-Order: Which Retailers are Carving Out Space in the M-Commerce Market?" ranks the highest-visited mobile retail sites and also looks at the percentages of of mobile retail shoppers among smartphone owners. According to comScore: "In July 2012, 85.9 million people age 18 and older visited a retail destination via a mobile browser or app on their smartphone, representing 4 in every 5 smartphone owners."
To put some perspective on just how rapid this rate of growth is, now consider what the FCC's 2011 Wireless Competition Report had to say about mobile commerce on smartphones: Data from comScore suggest that the increasing prevalence of smartphones may correspond to a growth in mobile shopping, as 10 percent of smartphones and 12 percent of iPhones have been used to access online retail sites, compared to only one percent of traditional handsets.
While smartphones and mobile retail websites are the beneficiaries of an unregulated, free-market environment, the same can't quite be said regarding some of the critical inputs for the wireless market. To repeat the policy priorities for furthering the mobile commerce boom: more flexible spectrum must be made available for commercial use and regulatory barriers must be reduced for building and upgrading wireless cell sites.