Consumers Use Smart Phones For Online Shopping, Not Buying

America Online, MSN, and Yahoo are ramping up information sites for online shoppers using mobile phones. But, for now, they're holding off on offering transaction capabilities.
Where Yahoo and AOL are cautious about the future, Kathleen Stockham, vice president of commerce for Durham, N.C.-based Motricity Inc., believes that the idea of using a mobile phone to check an airline flight or to buy merchandise shown on TV is only two or three years away.

Why does Stockham, a former senior manager with AOL's Shopping Channel who previously worked as marketing director for, feel so confident? She doesn't think consumers will need any education at all.

"It took almost 10 years to get people to the level of comfort where shopping online was mainstream. The adoption of mobile is even faster because we've demystified the process of buying something before you see it," she says.

Motricity, which helps Black Entertainment Television and Cingular Wireless and others provide mobile content ring tones, e-books and games, is in discussions with merchants to provide more than that, but Stockham declined to name them. Companies who sell products over their own TV networks are a natural fit, she added.

"This is definitely an area of interest for many different retailers at this time," Stockham says.

Take, for example, the shopping options available to Verizon Wireless subscribers. For $5 a month, its Mobile Web 2.0 service, gives them the opportunity to search, place bids and check their account on EBay; buy merchandise at; read ratings and reviews from Consumer Reports; and make purchases at Each of the services costs an additional $2.50 to $4.

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