Consumers around the world have rapidly lost interest in using internet-enabled mobile phones to make purchases online – so-called m-commerce – according to a study released this week by London-based management consultancy AT Kearney and Cambridge University’s Judge Institute of Management.

The report, which surveyed 1,600 owners of wireless mobiles in Europe, the US and Asia, found that the proportion saying they would use their phones for some sort of transaction fell from 32% last June to only 12% in January.

This loss of interest was most marked in the US, where the numbers expressing interest in m-commerce tumbled from 34% last summer to a meagre 3% in January. The equivalent figures in Europe were a little less severe, with a fall from 29% to 14%.

“The scale of the drop was quite a surprise,” commented AT Kearney consultant Paul Collins, who blamed the decline in interest on the poor quality of the first generation of internet-enabled phones. Mobile operators remain confident that network upgrades over the next two years will win back consumers by speeding up services.

However, technology alone may not be enough to win back the hearts and wallets of consumers – ease of use was only the second most frequently cited objection to m-commerce voiced by survey respondents. First came a simple lack of interest in wireless internet services – something Collins believes operators need to address by focusing on more exciting offerings.

News source: Wall Street Journal