The emergence of wireless and mobile networks has made possible the introduction of electronic commerce to a new application and research subject: mobile commerce. Understanding or constructing a mobile commerce system is an arduous task because the system involves a wide variety of disciplines and technologies. To facilitate understanding and constructing such a system, this chapter divides a mobile commerce system into six components : (i) mobile commerce applications, (ii) mobile stations , (iii) mobile middleware, (iv) wireless networks, (v) wired networks, and (vi) host computers. Elements in these components specifically related to the subject are described in detail and lists of technologies for component construction are given. Other important issues, such as mobile security, are also discussed.
With the introduction of the World Wide Web, electronic commerce has revolutionized traditional commerce and boosted sales and exchanges of merchandise and information. Recently, the emergence of wireless and mobile networks has made possible the admission of electronic commerce to a new application and research subject: mobile commerce, which is defined as the exchange or buying and selling of commodities, services, or information on the Internet through the use of mobile handheld devices. In just a few years , mobile commerce has emerged from nowhere to become the hottest new trend in business transactions. It is estimated that 50 million wireless phone users in the United States will use their handheld devices to authorize payment for premium content and physical goods at some point during the year of 2006. This represents 17% of the projected total population and 26% of all wireless users ("The Yankee Group", 2001). Mobile commerce is an effective and convenient way to deliver electronic commerce to consumers from anywhere and at anytime . Realizing the advantages to be gained from mobile commerce, many major companies have begun to offer mobile commerce options for their customers in addition to the electronic commerce they already provide (Yankee Group, 2002). However, it requires a tremendous effort to understand or construct a mobile commerce system because it involves such a wide range of disciplines and technologies. To lessen the difficulty, this chapter will divide a mobile commerce system into six components: (i) mobile commerce applications, (ii) mobile stations, (iii) mobile middleware, (iv) wireless networks, (v) wired networks, and (vi) host computers. Since each component is large enough to be a research area by itself, only elements in components that are specifically related to mobile commerce are explained in detail. Lists of the technologies used for component construction are given and other important issues, such as mobile security, are also discussed. Related research on mobile commerce systems can be found in an article by Varshney, Vetter, and Kalakota (2000).
It is first necessary to examine what kind of features a mobile commerce system is expected to have in order to conduct effective and efficient mobile commerce transactions and what kind of challenges may be faced in the process of developing new mobile commerce systems. The requirements for a mobile commerce system are:
It should allow end users to perform mobile commerce transactions easily, in a timely manner, and ubiquitously.
It should allow products to be personalized or customized upon request.
It should fully support a wide range of mobile commerce applications for content providers.
Maximum interoperability is desirable because so many technologies are now available and new techniques are constantly being invented for the use of mobile commerce systems.
Program/data independence is held, that is, changing the system components will not affect the existing programs/data.
End-to-end security is rigorously enforced.