There are millions of dollars to be made in the mobile marketplace right now — Apple alone has sold 120 million iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches since their various launches. However, beyond the runaway success of say, Angry Birds, the money to be made from a mobile platform won’t come from clever apps, reports Wired.
Transaction-based technology, like Square (which lets users send and receive payments through a small, free credit card reader that plugs right into your smartphone) and Kenya’s M-Pesa, which also lets users send money through mobile phones, is seeing huge growth. Wired notes that the four-year-old company is so popular that a quarter of Kenya’s GDP passes through it every year. Square, meanwhile, predicts it will process $1.1 billion in transactions by this June.
Beyond paying for real goods, there’s also the growing virtual industry (buying and selling virtual goods) — though this is still a niche part of the mobile market. Despite the fact that $1.6 billion was spent on virtual goods for iPhone apps alone last year, only around 2% of the planet uses iPhones, whereas 5 billion people have mobile phones in general, and about 4.2 billion are active SMS users.
Wired quotes the Finnish mobile consultant Tomi Ahonen, who says the future big money isn’t in apps, but in developing broader, more basic text- and WAP-based services that simply help people stay connected on various levels, whether it’s receiving information or money. If M-Pesa and the Kenyan GDP isn’t proof of that, we don’t what is.
Basically, it doesn’t matter if it’s a horoscope, a plane ticket, or a debt re-payment — anything that can be delivered to a mobile phone via SMS should be. And it’s possible to reap millions of dollars for providing the services to do so.