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Smart phone boom to drive mCommerce for business

By: Graham Smith
17 June, 2011

The explosion of smart phones in Australia is the result of a pent up demand for reliable and affordable mobile technology.

Paul Budde, founder of BuddeComm,  says the false dawn of WAP technology in the late 1990s held back the widespread adoption of mobile technology, but that has now all changed with the introduction of the Apple iPhone.

"That WAP technology got hijacked by the telecom operators. They started to put portals up and you had to go to them in order to get access to those applications. The operators charged an arm and a leg to users as well as to the content providers," Budde told IndustrySearch.

"Back then we had articles every day about what we then called mobile data applications – everyone was raving about them but it never happened. It wasn’t until 2007 when the Iphone arrived and Apple totally broke through the stranglehold that the mobile operators had in Australia."

Budde, who has been consulting on the telecommunications and digital media industries in Australia since 1983, said consumer appetite for smart phones was an opportunity to communicate better with customers and work smarter within organisations.

"Business, of course, is dependent on customers and if customers are going to use smart phones more and more then business will have to follow and find ways to utilise this new technology," he said.

So what does this explosion in smart phones and tablets mean on the ground for Australian business?

Tony Dunphy is managing director of Telaustralia a company that specialises in providing phone and Internet services to business.

Dunphy told Industrysearch that he had yet to see mobile commerce make a dramatic impact on his customer base despite the increasing prevalence of smart phones among the populace.

"We haven’t got a lot of customers using mcomm. A company called Datalogic is making mobile handsets that double as eftpos machines. They just take a sim card and operate over the cellular network and interact with home base," he said.

"When the technician gets back he doesn’t have to download anything, it’s automatically synched with the home office. Those units aren’t cheap however.

"This kind of technology is good for companies that want instant payment for cash flow reasons. Quite a few large companies are doing it and I’ve had some interest from smaller companies like electrical contractors."

Budde believes the "democratisation" of smart phone technology has created an entirely new platform for business.

"If you are involved in projects, in particular in B2B situations, what you want are the partners (either other companies or customers) to be an integral part of the project," Budde said.

"If you are in a plant or onsite then mobile devices, and I include Ipads and tablets in that as well, are making that whole situation more flexible. Let’s say you are in a construction company and you want to talk to your customer you get your tablet, or smart phone out and together with pictures and video you can actually show the customer or the partner the problem.

"I think the mobile device is making that core level of integrated communication much easier to use in an efficient way."
Dunphy too believes that smart phones will change the way Australian business goes about its business.

"I know there are some phones today that can scan a payment for example, but it’s in its infancy. I’m not aware of many out there in use. There’s going to be a whole host of things coming along like linking your credit card to your phone number," he said.

"There’ll be no need to carry a credit card. From a business’s point of view if you can make a payment you can take a payment as well. There’s going to be a whole host of things coming and I don’t doubt there not very far away."

Increased affordability of both devices and access to services through them will further drive adoption of this technology according to Budde.

"You don’t have the silliness hundreds of dollars to access these services. The Australian regulator is making sure operators don’t misuse it," Budde said.

"People are starting to trust it [the technology] knowing they wont get a bill shock for hundreds of dollars. The devices themselves are getting cheaper too as there is plenty of competition and the market is gigantic."

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