The m-commerce revolution has already begun. It will really accelerate when the m-portals ‚ whether provided by mobile operators, financial institutions, or value-added service providers ‚ focus on permission, specification, and personalization and offer extended mobility and locatability for the user. M-portals become really useful when the user can transact from anywhere in a mobile network area and the user, device, and geographic location can be identified.
Leading m-commerce actors offering such services can be found in Scandinavia and Asian nations (Japan, South Korea). In these places as well as in other nations, older players such as FSPs, mobile device makers , WSPs, and banks have a chance to grab leadership in the emergent, new m-commerce sectors.
It is important to understand that m-commerce users are time conscious and wish to be served anywhere within the mobile network coverage area. Personalization is based upon user-centric databases that evolve from daily communications and linking of multiple databases. Starting with the user's revealed preferences, personalization tailors services and content by constantly inferring roles and preferences (according to the context in which services are demanded) and by taking into account characteristics of the geographic location. Personalization relies on learning and intelligence based on collaborative filtering and profiling applied to multiple databases.
The scope and nature of permission are often unspecific and location based. The depth of permission, on the other hand, relies on an extensive range of transactions and payments that are explicitly or tacitly permitted by the user.
Specification faces the challenge of figuring out what "role" the user is in at any particular moment. It is difficult to tell whether the user is on or off duty. The role depends on user preferences, merchant preferences/capabilities, and geographic location/characteristics.
Integration is a key issue where location in the form of geo-coded data is essential. Integration of the communication, location, information, and payment functions happens in the CLIP device in a real-time fashion. It is also important, however, for the m-portal owner to integrate already existing offerings or build applications that integrate the possible wireless dataflows, aggregations and sources. Seamless and smooth-functioning partnerships with shared revenue are also needed.
Wireless service providers (WSPs) have some exceptionally strong opportunities for being the winner of the game, but partnering will be a key success factor for m-portals. The winner of the battle for leadership will be the m-portal that can utilize the key success factors for m-commerce ‚ mobility and locatability ‚ and offer a high degree of integration. The essential task of the m-portal is to be an intermediary and an integrator of information. In principle the m-portal can be a database permit, as well as specify and personalize the communication, information, payment, and location functions. Appropriate partners deliver the necessary data, services, approvals , and communications that flow via the m-portal. Three vital groups of partners are central for M-commerce: device manufacturers (mobile phones, PDAs, pagers , and GPS receivers), infrastructure enablers (ISP, FSP, WSP, GPS network, content aggregators, Internet portals, banks, and credit card firms), and content providers (WSP, mapmakers, news agencies, travel firms, entertainment firms, PIM firms, employers , banks, exchanges, and virtual and physical businesses).
A big challenge for all is the need for supplying geo-coded information so that specification of the m-portal services can be appropriate to the location-role of the user. Another and even bigger challenge is to integrate multiple and often competing technologies. The early experiences of m-commerce pioneers worldwide need to be watched closely to figure out the combinations of technologies, partnerships, and business models that work well.
Even as the USA is attempting a grudging transition from 2G to 3G mobile networks and Europe is struggling to usher in 3G on a wider scale, efforts have begun for the successor 4G mobile networks, especially in Japan. These 4G networks would guarantee service quality and security in wireless networks comparable to wired circuit-switched networks, provide multimedia communications of television quality, and allow users to roam globally as well as across LANs and WANs ‚ with smooth, seamless handovers. The framework presented in this chapter lays out service delivery parameters for m-commerce that should be of value in mobile networks as they evolve from 2G to 3G and on to 4G and beyond in the future.