It’s never been easy making mobile-commerce predictions. Researchers who tried to forecast how much we would spend on goods and services via cell phone came up with all sorts of projections that were wide of the mark. Early in the decade, published reports cited forecasts that by 2006 more than one-quarter of U.S. cell-phone users would use the device to buy content and physical goods.
Turns out that by the end of the second quarter, only about 7% of U.S. consumers bought goods or conducted financial transactions via cell phone, according to a Nielsen Mobile survey of more than 90,000 people.
Yet, m-commerce may finally be hitting its stride. And some analysts who in recent years became more conservative in their forecasts are now having to make upward revisions. In January, consultant ABI Research projected North American sales of physical goods ordered via cell phone would reach $544 million this year, up from $346 million in 2008. Now, Mark Beccue, senior analyst at ABI, is considering updating his 2009 forecast to $800 million. “I thought hockey-stick growth was going to come in 2010, but it looks like it’s already a hockey stick,” Beccue says. “Next year, it will double again.”