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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

July 18, 2007 at 11:28 AM

M-commerce: a study just a day late

Seattle-based mPoria believes there’s a huge market potential for selling physical goods over the phone, just as they are bought online today.

I wrote a story on Monday about m-commerce, which many people are expecting to become one of the next mobile frontiers. The idea is that first people get comfortable buying digital content on their phones, such as ringtones and music. Next, they will start surfing the Web to find relevant information while they are on the go. And next, it will make sense to do a bit of shopping.

Following the publication of Monday’s story (isn’t that always the way it goes?), the research firm Strategy Analytics released a report called: “M-Commerce: Search Efficiency and Results Customization Critical,” which looked at the perfromance of eBay, lastminute.com and Odeon Cinema on the phone.

This result: The phone experience was substantially inferior to that of the Internet on a computer.

In a test that I detailed in the story, where I was buying a bouquet of flowers, this was partly true. The process required a lot of clicks, but it was easier to enter text than I had previously imagined.

The study found that users were surprised that they were unable to purchase content from lastminute.com and Odeon Cinema and bid for items on eBay using the mobile portal.

“Consumers were profoundly dissatisfied with the concept of only using the M-Commerce sites for research and pre-purchase evaluation,” said Paul Brown, senior analyst. “Participants were surprised and disappointed that when using the lastminute.com mobile portal they could search for flights and vacations but could not purchase either tickets or trips.”

Interestingly enough, the report also found that Amazon.com — followed by iTunes — were the two most-sought-after e-commerce sites on mobile phones.

I contacted Amazon for my story, and it was unwilling to talk about its vision and current activities on the phone.

“While I’d really like to help you, we do not discuss the details of our mobile strategy,” a spokesman said.

He did direct me to a Web site that explains what you can do on the mobile phone today. Amazon does have a pretty slick mobile site — it eliminates a lot of the headaches by pulling information from your account so you don’t have to fill in your credit card or shipping information if it had been stored online.

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