August 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

Publisher's Letter: The age of mobile is here

It's hard to imagine not having a smartphone.

Lead Photo

Smartphones have become such a vital means of connecting with the world that it's hard to imagine not having one. To understand just how fast the smartphone has changed our culture, it helps to remember that Apple Inc. introduced its revolutionary iPhone just five years ago—completely reshaping every industry dependent on the Internet for marketing and commerce.

Since then, smartphones have taken over America's mobile phone market, accounting for more than half of all mobile phones in use, according to the Nielsen Co.

It's no wonder mobile commerce and marketing are exploding.

Fully 26% of America's top 500 e-retailers now have a mobile site or app; you can read more about some of the coolest m-commerce apps around on page 12. Total U.S. m-commerce sales are expected to reach $17.5 billion this year, up 64% from $10.7 billion a year ago. eBay, which supports mobile commerce operations for thousands of smaller e-retailers on its highly rated m-commerce platform and 18 specialized apps, expects to process $10 billion in mobile transactions this year, double that of last year.

As significant as the smartphone is to e-commerce, its impact on consumer marketing may be more pronounced. It seems everywhere you look people are looking down at their smartphones—when they walk, sit or shop. Retail marketers are realizing the power of those devices. For more on this behavior and its implications for retailers, turn to page 22. By using texts, tweets, e-mails, Instagrams and video messaging, the smartphone is the most coveted and personal communications device consumers have ever owned, and it's obvious that mobile is marketing's new frontier.

Mobile marketing and mobile commerce are inextricably connected. That is why we've expanded and renamed our annual mobile commerce event the Mobile Marketing & Commerce Forum, which takes place in downtown San Diego from Oct. 8-10. The first day of the three-day event consists of a Mobile Marketing Workshop packed with information on the latest mobile marketing techniques. The two days of the main conference feature presentations from the leaders of mobile commerce, who will reveal their strategies and practices for competing in the fastest-growing segment of e-commerce—purchases made on smartphones and tablets.

Past attendees of Internet Retailer's market-leading e-commerce events know we focus on crafting the most informative, practical and objective conference agendas, relying on the best sources of our 17-person full-time editorial staff. All 45 speakers were selected based solely on their expertise on the assigned session topic. That focus on objective and informative speakers explains why more than 90% of attendees at last year's conference rated speakers as either good, very good or excellent.

Keynoting MMCF 2012 is Steve Yankovich, who, as vice president of mobile for eBay Inc., oversees the world's largest mobile commerce operation. MMCF 2012 also boasts featured speakers from non-retailer markets that have become major players in m-commerce and mobile marketing. They include Sam Shank, CEO of HotelTonight.com, a leader of the newest e-commerce business model—one based entirely on m-commerce—and Chris Brown, vice president of product strategy at travel site Orbitz. Every major mobile topic of interest to mobile marketers and m-commerce professionals will be explored by MMCF 2012's stellar lineup of presenters. Whether you have a mobile marketing or commerce presence now or not, the forum will be the most important conference you'll attend this year. Because going mobile is as much a game-changer as going online.

Jack Love, Publisher

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