After years and years of premature predictions of varying kinds about the mobile market, it’s clear that mobile is starting to realize the potential just about everyone knew it had. From the billions of mobile subscribers around the world to the more than one billion apps that have been downloaded via Apple’s App Store, mobile is legitimately big.

According to ABI Research, mobile is going to get a lot bigger in the ecommerce market. The research firm is predicting that in 2015, $119bn worth of goods and services will be purchased via a mobile phone.

It’s a bold prediction. By ABI Research’s count, mobile commerce tripled in the United States in 2009, but still only constituted a $1.2bn market. In Japan, which has one of the most vibrant mobile markets, mobile commerce “exceeded $10 billion” in 2009.

So how is mobile going to get to $119bn by 2015? In the developed world, adoption of smart phones is playing a large role. ABI Research notes that more and more consumers in the U.S., for instance, are using their mobile phones for retail-related purposes. Specifically, mobile-savvy consumers are using their internet-enabled phones to comparison shop while browsing brick and mortar stores. In the less developed world, the mobile phone often provides the only pathway to the internet, meaning mobile phones will be at the center of internet-based commerce in these countries.

Obviously, a lot of mobile-related predictions over the years have been way off and despite the increased maturity of mobile markets, it’s anyone’s guess as to how much money will really change hands between businesses and consumers via mobile five years from now. That said, companies should plan for the day when a mobile commerce strategy is a requirement, not optional, because that day is likely coming sooner than later.

Two areas businesses should be giving thought to:

  • Mobile presence. How will your customers and prospective customers expect to interact with you via mobile? Will you need a mobile website/storefront? How can mobile fit into a broader multichannel strategy?
  • Mobile marketing. Even businesses that decide a full-fledged mobile presence doesn’t make sense will need to consider how they’re perceived on the mobile internet. This is especially true for retailers who will increasingly have to deal with consumers who check for better pricing while in-store.

Photo credit: James Cridland via Flickr.