Editor’s Introduction 8(3)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 8, Number 3, Spring 2004, pp. 5.

Abstract: Mobile commerce (m-commerce) has a sense of inevitability about it as a blossoming offshoot of e-commerce. M-commerce has apparently absolute advantages in its offering of location-sensitive services and almost intimate access to the consumer. Its setting also imposes limitations, notably those of attention constraints and small-screen access devices. The challenges that require sustained study and accumulation of experience come, however, from the relative nature of the advantages in specific cultural and organizational settings, against specific economically and technologically motivated alternatives. These challenges, as we know full well, have been delaying what was expected to become an avalanche some time ago.

The Journal has devoted two Special Issues to m-commerce. The Fall 2003 issue of IJEC focused on the socio-technical aspects that condition, and generally delay, the assimilation of m-commerce by individuals, organizations, and societies. The issue was rich in assessing the challenges in specific contexts and in offering empirically grounded solutions. The present Special Issue on Mobile Commerce Applications goes further into the specifics of m-commerce. Each of the papers addresses a nodal aspect or context, such as m-procurement, m-commerce in the travel business, m-advertisement acceptance, and customer-interface design. The next level of understanding will require the rethinking of multiple business aspects in the novel context of m-commerce. Foe example, consumer attitudes toward m-advertisements are largely negative. This does not mean that there will be no m-advertisements. It implies that the new channel will require rethinking of the concept and the testing of new ideas to seek acceptance.

The Guest Editors of the Special Issue, Ting-Peng Liang and Chih-Ping Wei, will introduce its contents to you within the novel m-commerce framework they propose. As m-commerce opens another business channel, the complexity of channel selection by vendors and buyers is increasing. The two papers in the general section of the issue throw a good measure of light on this subject. Ruth C. King, Ravi Sen, and Mu Xia deploy game theory to determine the best channel choices for retailers in the presence of the Web-channel alternative. Alok Gupta, Bo-chiuan Su, and Zhiping Walter deploy theoretically grounded empirics to study consumer switching from the off-line to the on-line channel. As we know, a variety of successful alternatives has surfaced over the past decade, with multichannel strategies originated by off-line and, increasingly, on-line retailers, as well as profitable specialized on-line retailers growing along major retail portals. The choices are complex, but the present papers contribute significantly to our understanding. The work presented is of interest methodologically and further convinces with well-chosen examples of practice, which can in turn be enhanced based on the knowledge gained here.