June 16, 2008, 12:00 AM

M-commerce has achieved critical mass, Nielsen Mobile expert says

9.16 million U.S. mobile phone users have used their phones to pay for goods and services, through avenues including wireless carrier portals, m-commerce sites and text messages, new data from The Nielsen Company shows.

Mobile commerce is today-it’s happening, and millions of consumers are along for the ride. Nielsen Mobile, part of research giant The Nielsen Company, reports 9.16 million U.S. mobile phone users, 3.6% of the total 254.5 million, have used their phones to pay for goods and services, through avenues including wireless carrier portals, m-commerce sites and text messages. What’s more, 49% of the 94 million mobile phone users with data service-the ability to access the Internet from a mobile device-expect to participate in mobile commerce in the future.

Nic Covey, director of insights at Nielsen Mobile, presented the research, based on a survey of 30,000 U.S. wireless subscribers, during a session last week at the m-commerce workshop at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2008. The session was titled “Understanding the Mobile Web and What It Will Take to Make M-commerce Happen.”

“Mobile commerce isn’t a 2009 thing, it’s a 2008 thing,” Covey said. “Already millions of mobile users are logging on to their favorite retailers over the phone and purchasing items. With the success of m-commerce sites like Amazon.com, which more than 2 million people have visited, and eBay, which more than 3 million have visited, this shows a critical mass that represents a real opportunity for retailers.”

In other findings, men are more likely to make purchases using their mobile phones than women, Nielsen Mobile says: 4.9 million of the 9.16 million m-commerce buyers are men while 4.26 million are women. Also, 3 million of the 9.16 million m-commerce buyers are ages 25 to 34.

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