Week 11 – Mobile Commerce and Location-based Services

This week we looked at technologies for m-commerce, location-based services, and m-commerce.

The review questions for this week are:

Discuss the attributes, benefits, and fundamental drivers of m-commerce.

The attributes of m-commerce are:

  • Ubiquity – m-commerce is everywhere, you don’t have to go to a special place to find it, it is where you are.
  • Convenience – because it’s everywhere, it’s very easy to take advantage of, which makes it the first choice of commerce for a lot of scenarios, like ordering a taxi.
  • Interactivity – the method of purchasing requires you and the system to be involved, for each party to know each other better to provide better service.
  • Personalisation – as you interact with the service more and more, it understands your tastes, and configures itself to emphasise the things you want. Like how amazon.com shows you things based on your history of things you’ve already looked at.
  • Localisation – because m-commerce is everywhere, it must take advantage of your location in order to tailor services that are relevant to you. If the phone knows where you are, then when you order a taxi, you no longer have to tell it where to pick you up.

The benefits of m-commerce are the concrete realisation of the attributes listed above, which are all positive reasons for people to embrace m-commerce. There’s a device in your pocket which can let you transact with the world at any time, compare prices, give you a wealth of information, and help you make decisions fast. Why wouldn’t people take advantage of it?

The fundemental driver of m-commerce is the fact that the world is becoming more mobile, and mobile is the primary computing platform of choice for more and more people. This year tablets will surpass PCs in sales (http://www.extremetech.com/computing/185937-in-2015-tablet-sales-will-finally-surpass-pcs-fulfilling-steve-jobs-post-pc-prophecy). So if people are moving towards mobile platforms, it’s no surprise that m-commerce exists to satisfy that demand.

Discussion m-commerce applications in banking and financial services.

Kiwibank Home Hunter (http://www.sushmobile.com/nz/home-hunter-5/) is an engaging app used to find houses for sale. Potential customers could locate houses for sale on the app, and then at the location, do things like track the sun in the sky to understand how much sun this house is likely to receive. That is only possible in real time by taking advantage of the location of the app. Once a potential customer had decided they liked the house, they could apply for a mortgage pre-approval on the app to understand their borrowing position.

For me, this was amazing to see the engagement the bank could have through one app. No longer did people need to go to multiple websites to find a house, another website to do a mortgage, another website to learn about the area.

Describe consumer and personal applications of m-commerce including entertainment.

The big application these days of m-commerce is mobile gaming. A powerhouse in mobile gaming is King, and their popular mobile game Candy Crush Saga (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candy_Crush_Saga), which notes that in 2014 $1.33 billion USD was spent on in-app purchases on the game.

Understand the technologies and potential applications of location-based m-commerce.

The technologies involved with location-based m-commerce rely on understanding where the device is. The primary technology to do this is GPS which these days is augmented with GLONASS (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GLONASS). The principle is based on triangulation between different satellites in the sky, the distance of which is calculated by the amount of time the signal has taken to reach the mobile device from the satellite. Because of the reliance on satellites, GPS+GLONASS doesn’t do very well indoors or in covered areas. There are other less fine grained methods of location calculation such as the connection to a particular mobile base station, or a particular Wifi hotspot that has a known location. There are other more fine grained methods of location such as being close to beacons indoor.

Anyways, the point of knowing a location is to then customise the service provided to the customer. A good example would be to highlight food trucks near by. Food trucks are mobile, and therefore aren’t always in the same location. People are mobile, and therefore aren’t always in the same location. If food trucks and people both have location trackers, then each party can determine the best way to get closer together. Food trucks can target locations with a lot of people, and people can find where their favourite food truck is located. A win-win for both parties.

There were also some To-Dos for this week which were:

Comment on the recent TechCrunch article “The Future Of the Web is All About Context“.

The crux of the article is that today, services are personalised, but only within the silos of information they’re aware of. To provide better personalisation to customers, services need to aggregate more information across different data sources. On top of that, semantic processing is required to understand the context of why someone wants to know information. This is all to get towards a holy grail of being able to answer questions like “what are some movies on near me that are similar to other movies I like?”. To do this, a system would need to get a list of movies I like (say from Netflix), look at movie theaters near me (from Google Maps), then look at movies that are playing near by (say from the Theater company), and then mash all the data together to make a reasonable answer.

I don’t think the article addresses the ‘creepy’ factor, which is, as systems get a better aggregated view of people, are people OK with that? Maybe I don’t mind that Netflix knows the movies I like, but I don’t want movie theater companies to know this.

Identify an additional example of disruptive innovation in connection with mobile commerce.

The example of disruptive innovation relating to mobile commerce I selected was E-Bay. E-Bay have created an auction and ‘garage sale’ that is global, but also accessible from mobiles. The idea that at any time people worldwide can list a product to anyone else worldwide, make a decision around whether to let the market determine the value through an auction, or just sell it at a known price with a known margin is game changing.

I do note that they’re not as ubiquitous throughout the world as they would like, for instance, in Australia they dominate the market, with 60% of online shoppers using the site in 2013. But in New Zealand, TradeMe became the more popular auction website mainly due to first mover advantage, as well as localisation for New Zealand.

2 Replies to “Week 11 – Mobile Commerce and Location-based Services”

  1. What about the claim that in the future, privacy will become much more expensive than publicity? You will be suspicious when no data about you, your location, your habits, etc. is available (or “not enough”, whatever enough means)? I think that is a major issue we will need to balance, and which will ultimately split societies into tech lovers and tech refusers; the later may or may not be left behind, but that is something we do not know for sure yet.

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