April 14, 2011, 1:01 PM

A sign of the mobile times?

Our mobile performance index doubles the retailers tracked, reflecting m-commerce growth.

When we launched the Mobile Commerce Report weekly newsletter in October 2010, the mobile space looked a lot different than it does today. Editor Bill Siwicki and I felt we could keep pretty close track of the mobile commerce landscape. In fact, Bill even diligently kept a running tally of mobile retailers. Both he and I believed it to be fairly accurate.

On July 15, 2010, we estimated there were 175 retailers and consumer brand manufacturers in mobile commerce, operating an m-commerce site or a mobile app, or both. By December 31, there were countless hundreds.

Mobile commerce, to put it simply, had exploded. And our coverage is expanding to take into account that growth.

In this week’s edition of Mobile Commerce Report readers will see reports on the performance of 30 mobile commerce sites in the Keynote Systems Mobile Commerce Performance Index, doubling the 15 that Keynote has previously tracked for Mobile Commerce Report. The 30-merchant index includes chain retailers and web-only merchants of different sizes and from different product categories. It measures the amount of time it takes to download an m-commerce site home page (load time) and the number of times the home page loads successfully (success rate).

And you’ll notice other changes in Internet Retailer’s editorial content to account for mobile’s massive growth. Last year’s Internet Retailer Hot 100 Retail Web Sites—our annual December magazine issue which includes exemplary retail sites chosen by Internet Retailer editorial staff—included an additional 10 mobile sites and app standouts this year. And this year’s Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide listings will include the features and functions of each retailer’s mobile commerce sites.

Last year, we launched our first Mobile Commerce Data Book, revealing mobile commerce data, trends, best practices and strategies. We also hosted our first Mobile Commerce Forum—where we welcomed executives from Travelocity, Fandango and a range of other companies who shared their mobile expertise with attendees.

We’re taking mobile seriously because we need to. Mobile, like it or not, has entered the mainstream and it’s only growing. Our readers need to know about it.

EBay projects total sales volume for mobile will reach $4 billion this year, up from nearly $2 billion in 2010 and $600 million in 2009. Mobile payments seem to finally by reaching the cusp of widespread adoption with AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless partnering with credit card company Discover Financial Services to form Isis, a payment system that hopes to offer contactless payments for the wireless carriers’ subscribers at merchant locations starting next year. Retailers like Macy’s and The Home Depot are placing 2D bar codes in stores that consumers can scan with a smartphone to access product information and even buy. Amazon.com, eBay and Choice Hotels all have mobile executive on their payrolls.

Meanwhile, the tablet computer is expanding mobile commerce beyond the smartphone, and consumers are embracing it at an astonishing rate. Apple sold 15 million of its original iPad between April and December 2010 and an estimated 500,000 of its iPad 2 in the first three days after its launch last month. High-end sale site Gilt Group says 4% of its sales now come from its iPad app.

Oh, and the number of mobile commerce sites and apps? I can assure you it is far too big to count.

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