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Industry observers and analysts have been predicting that mobile commerce would have a bright future for nearly a decade, but it wasn't until recently that those predictions started to look like they might be accurate, if still poorly timed.
The latest source of confirmation that mobile commerce is real: eBay's CEO John Donahoe.
eBay, which also owns PayPal, has seen a "staggering surge" of mobile transactions in the past year. In 2011, eBay processed $5bn in mobile sales and PayPal handled $4bn in mobile transactions. Today, during eBay's Q2 earnings call, Donahoe said he expects those numbers to more than double, with both eBay and PayPal doing more than $10bn each in mobile business.
PayPal is an obvious beneficiary of mobile, which has seen numerous players large and small trying to evolve and make more convenient and efficient the way we pay for goods and services. But the volume of mobile transactions eBay is seeing may come as a surprise to some.
eBay's CEO, however, isn't surprised. In fact, while most retailers don't yet report the breakdown between web and mobile traffic and sales, Donahoe believes that eBay may be better positioned than most retailers:
If you think of it as an app-based world, we aren’t going to carry around a Neiman Marcus app and a Walmart app and a Best Buy app. By being a marketplace, it’s a single app that gives you access to a lot of things. That’s why we are getting viral traction on it.
That's a good point -- so long as you believe that native mobile apps are where the action is at. Apps may, in many instances, have an advantage over mobile websites for the time being, but the native app versus mobile website debate is one a growing number of businesses are looking to address more thoughtfully.
With more than a third of smartphone owners accessing the mobile web on a daily basis, it's logical that many retailers will be seeing mobile traffic hitting their websites -- something some of them are ready for.