Market forces, technology, and opportunity are converging on the mobile phone front, and about to launch a huge disruptive force in commerce. While we have become accustomed to promotional and communication opportunities enabled by the internet and social media, the distribution and pricing channel is about to heat up.
According to the recently released Comscore 2013 Digital Future in Focus Report, smart phones in Canada now represent 62% of the market, up from 45% in 2012. This is significant in that we have now passed a tipping point where the majority of phone users are mobile internet enabled. Couple this with Canadians spending on average 41 hours/month online, second only globally to Americans at 43 hours/month, and the stage has now been set for market forces and opportunity to collide with new disruptive offerings. Here are a couple early examples:
Twitter has paired up with American Express to enable purchases to be completed with the use of a hashtag. Essentially once a consumer tweets a specific hashtag to the company requesting a purchase, the transaction would be completed once acknowledged by the company and then confirmed by the customer. Online shopping with all the extra hassle of security and transactions would be taken out of the system. It’s a bold social media move by American Express, and could indicate a disruptive shift in the way commerce will be conducted online in the future. It does however beg some privacy and ethical issues. Will people want their purchase history on Twitter? Does this make impulse shopping too easy? But beyond this dark side, there is certainly opportunity. Consumers will automatically be promoting brands to their followers while buying them. Suddenly there is equity to a company in how many followers a purchaser has, and that could lead to some interesting promotional offers to prospective customers. Privacy and ethics aside, there is a solid win/win formula potentially in there, as marketers look for ways to leverage their brand within social channels. Read more here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/boninbough/2013/02/13/from-hashtag-to-purchase-twitters-newest-partnership-with-american-express/
Apple has applied for a patent to get into the mobile micro-lending banking business, via an innovative APP. They want to be able to turn iPhone users into potential ad-hoc cash dispensary locations. Essentially a consumer, who needs, say $20 but is not close to a bank machine, could use their APP to find another iPhone user in close proximity. They would receive the offer to lend that person $20 cash, which would then appear as an Apple credit on their iTunes account, plus a bonus transaction fee for having facilitated the exchange. This essentially makes everyday consumers into cash machines, while denying the banks their exorbitant service charges. You can bet that Apple plans to sell more than music in their iTunes commerce site, and I would think this signals a major move to tread into Amazon territory. It certainly would be more appealing to accumulate credits that could be used to purchase a broad range of things beyond just music. Read more here: http://techcrunch.com/2013/01/31/apple-patents-crowdsourced-peer-to-peer-mobile-banking-that-could-use-itunes-to-provide-cash-on-demand/
Both of these examples work in a mobile enabled consumer environment. Expect more of this type of innovative thinking from companies as technology, market forces and opportunity disrupt traditional distribution channels.