Amazon, eBay Mobile Success Defies 'M-Commerce' Trend

The current state of mobile commerce -- purchases made on mobile devices -- is not dire but most users aren't buying things over their handsets. There are a number of semi-contradictory surveys and studies in the market about the health of m-commerce: 

In contrast to buying there is a great deal of "shopping" and price comparison lookups going on in stores on mobile devices. However there are two companies in particular that already have very healthy m-commerce businesses. The first, eBay, said that it was on track for $1.5 billion in sales from mobile devices in 2010. Amazon is the other.

Yesterday Amazon reported second-quarter earnings that included more than $1 billion in global sales from mobile devices:

In the last twelve months, customers around the world have ordered more than $1 billion of products from Amazon using a mobile device," said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com.

Are these two companies simply leading indicators of where the market is going or are they exceptions, suggesting that it may be a long time before others achieve comparable mobile success. My view is somewhere in-between.

These are two strong and, in Amazon's case in particular, trusted brands. In addition Amazon (like iTunes) has stored credit card information, removing fricition from the m-commerce process. The credit card and the challenge of entering 16 digits on the small screen is by itself enough to kill 99% of mobile transactions.

Over time consumers will feel more comfortable buying a wide range of things on their handsets, but it will take time for retailers, etailers and others to assimilate best practices and properly address the needs and use case of consumers on the go.