The hottest digital real estate is still up for grabs.
The competition is fierce to control the mall in consumers’ pockets and the victor — should one player gain a commanding share of the mobile market — will be in prime position to shape the next phase of commerce.
Tech giants and brands alike are scrambling to develop apps and optimize their Web sites to accommodate an on-the-go consumer who expects a seamless experience. The rush to control the channel has been front and center this week. First, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s @WalmartLabs bought shopping app Stylr in its drive to improve its mobile commerce. Then, on Wednesday, Amazon entered the ultracompetitive fray by launching its own smartphone, the Fire. For Amazon, the goal is less about the device than it is to grab a greater share of mobile commerce.
And no wonder — mobile is on course to dominate digital traffic. Cisco’s state of the Internet report this month said mobile devices would make up 57 percent of all Internet traffic by 2018, up from 33 percent last year.
“No one has really won mobile yet,” John Mulligan, Target Corp.’s interim chief executive officer, said during an appearance on Bloomberg TV last month.
Mulligan said that is where Target believes it can gain an edge over the likes of Amazon — although Amazon clearly won’t cede any ground easily. Jeff Bezos, founder and ceo of the e-commerce giant, introduced the Fire, which ships on July 25 and is available in 32GB and 64GB versions retailing for $199 and $299, respectively. The phone features a 4.7-inch screen, unlimited storage of photos in Amazon Cloud Drive and a Firefly tool that uses the phone’s camera to identify things in the physical world, such as QR codes, books and games.
The company already has a strong position in mobile, at one time controlling up to a third of mobile commerce, according to reports. But as smartphone adoption soared and more retailers enhanced their mobile experience, Amazon’s share has declined, according to Matthew Nemer, an analyst at Wells Fargo. He estimated Amazon and eBay each command about 20 percent of mobile sales, and that eBay is now “pretty close” behind Amazon.
EBay’s Marketplaces and PayPal each exceeded $20 billion in mobile volume; Amazon, which didn’t respond to a request for comment, doesn’t break down sales by channel.
Based on a study earlier this year in cooperation with Forrester Research, Shop.org on Wednesday singled out the mobile “movers and shakers,” pointing to Amazon, Facebook, Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Rue La La, ModCloth, eBay and Groupon. The diversity shows that there are many ways for businesses to use mobile to attract customers.
The most-buzzed-about mobile player is Uber — established as a mobile-first transportation company in 2009 that is valued at $18 billion — even as it hits some road bumps in expanding into Europe.
Then there’s Domino’s, which is seen as implementing forward-thinking strategies in mobile that have helped make the 54-year-old pizza chain more relevant.