The emerging wireless and mobile networks have extended electronic commerce to another research and application subject: mobile commerce. A mobile commerce system involves a range of disciplines and technologies. This level of complexity makes understanding and constructing a mobile commerce system an arduous task. To facilitate this process, this chapter divided a mobile commerce system into six components , which can be summarized as follows :
Mobile commerce applications: Electronic commerce applications are already broad. Mobile commerce applications not only cover the existing applications but also include new applications, which can be performed at any time and from anywhere by using mobile computing technology.
Mobile stations: Mobile stations are limited by their small screens, limited memory, limited processing power, and low battery power and suffer from wireless network transmission problems. Numerous mobile stations , such as PDAs or Web-enabled cellular phones, are available in the market, but most use one of three major operating systems: Palm OS, Microsoft Pocket PC, and Symbian OS. At this moment, Palm OS leads the market, although it faces a serious challenge from Pocket PC.
Mobile middleware: WAP and i-mode are the two major kinds of mobile middleware. WAP is widely adopted and flexible, while i-mode has the highest number of users and is easy to use. It is difficult to predict which middleware will be the eventual winner in the end; it is more likely that the two will be blended somehow at some point in the future.
Wireless and wired networks: Wireless communication capability supports mobility for end users in mobile commerce systems. Wireless LAN, MAN, and WAN are major components used to provide radio communication channels so that mobile service is possible. In the WLAN category, the Wi-Fi standard with 11 Mbps throughput dominates the current market. It is expected that standards with much higher transmission speeds, such as IEEE 802.11a and 802.11g, will replace Wi-Fi in the near future. Compared to WLANs, cellular systems can provide longer transmission distances and greater radio coverage but suffer from the drawback of much lower bandwidth (less than 1 Mbps). In the latest trend for cellular systems, 3G standards supporting wireless multimedia and high-bandwidth services are beginning to be deployed. WCDMA and CDMA2000 are likely to dominate the market in the future.
Host computers: Host computers process and store all the information needed for mobile commerce applications, and most application programs can be found here. They include three major components: Web servers, database servers, and application programs and support software.
Another important issue for mobile commerce is mobile security and payment. Mobile commerce systems can prosper only if information can be securely exchanged among end systems (consumers and vendors ). Security issues (including payment) include data reliability, integrity, confidentiality, and authentication and are usually an important part of implementation in wireless protocols/systems. Solutions are updated frequently due to the lack of a comprehensive wireless security infrastructure and standard. A unified approach has not yet emerged.
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