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May 10 2012

Commerce Weekly: The competitive push toward mobile payment

Here are a few of this week's stories from the commerce space that caught my eye.

Mobile payments are coming, one way or another

Square_AngleyHands.pngThe New York Times (NYT) took a look this week at the push toward mobile payments and the various paths toward that end. The push isn't only coming from a consumer desire for a mobile wallet, but also from the payment companies. The NYT's post reports:

"Merchants are facing heavy pressure to upgrade their payment terminals to accept smart cards. Over the last several months, Visa, Discover and MasterCard have said that merchants that cannot accept these cards will be liable for any losses owing to fraud."

This could be the push needed for mobile payment, at least in the U.S., to get over the technology hump that has thus far been hindering it from catching on. Jennifer Miles, executive vice president at payment terminal provider VeriFone, told the NYT, "Everybody is going to be upgrading ... Before the credit card companies made their announcements, almost no merchants were buying terminals with smart card and NFC capabilities." She says VeriFone no longer installs payment terminals without NFC readers.

NFC technology, however, not only requires upgrades from merchants, but also consumers. The post reviews mobile payment solutions from PayPal and Square, noting the directive for these two companies may be more consumer centric:

"Both PayPal and Square say that asking customers to buy NFC-enabled phones and wait for merchants to install new hardware is folly. Neither company says it has plans to incorporate NFC into its wallet."

This consumer-centric approach might be part of what's behind VeriFone's announcement this week that it would jump into the payment processing fray. Bloomberg reports:

"VeriFone Systems Inc. (PAY), the largest maker of credit-card terminals, will offer an attachment that lets mobile devices accept credit and debit cards, making a deeper push into a market pioneered by Square Inc. and EBay Inc. (EBAY)'s PayPal ... VeriFone's version will allow partners such as banks to customize the service to transmit coupons and loyalty points to consumers, said Greg Cohen, a senior vice president at San Jose, California-based VeriFone."

VeriFone's system will work with Apple and Android mobile devices.

X.commerce harnesses the technologies of eBay, PayPal and Magento to create the first end-to-end multi-channel commerce technology platform. Our vision is to enable merchants of every size, service providers and developers to thrive in a marketplace where in-store, online, mobile and social selling are all mission critical to business success. Learn more at x.com.

MasterCard releases PayPass

MasterCard announced its new PayPass Wallet Services this week. The company describes the global service in a press release:

PayPass Wallet Services delivers three distinct components — PayPass Acceptance Network (PayPass Online and PayPass Contactless), PayPass Wallet and PayPass API. These services enable a consistent shopping experience no matter where and how consumers shop, as well as a suite of digital wallet services, and developer tools to make it easier to connect other wallets into the PayPass Online acceptance network.

In other words, it's designed to work with any sort of digital wallet used by its partners. According to the release, American Airlines and Barnes & Noble are in the initial group of merchant partners.

One of the big differences between MasterCard's system and those of its competitors is its open nature. PC World reports:

What sets MasterCard's offering apart from digital wallet systems announced by Visa, Google, PayPal and others is how much the company is opening up its platform to third parties, said Gartner wireless analyst Mark Hung. Banks and other partners will be able to adopt PayPass Wallet Services in two different ways: They can use MasterCard's own service under their own brand or just use the company's API (application programming interface) to build their own platform.

Mobile payment readiness, global edition

How ready is the world for mobile payments? MasterCard has that covered this week, too. In a guest post at Forbes, vice president of MasterCard Worldwide Theodore Iacobuzio wrote about the launch of the MasterCard Mobile Payments Readiness Index (MPRI), a data-driven survey of the mobile payments landscape. Iacobuzio says the index "assesses and ranks 34 global economies in terms of how ready (or not) they are for mobile payments of three types":

  • M-commerce, which is e-commerce conducted from a mobile phone or tablet.
  • Point-of-Sale (POS) mobile payments where a smart phone becomes the authentication device to complete a transaction at checkout.
  • Person-to-Person (P2P) mobile payments that involve the direct transfer of funds from one person to another using a mobile device.

Iacobuzio says that "one of the top-level findings is that unless all constituents — banks, merchants, telcos, device makers, governments — collaborate on developing new solutions and services, the mainstream adoption of mobile payments will be slower, more contentious and more expensive." He discusses the needs for mobile payments around the world, including in developed, developing and emerging countries.

But who's ready? The following image is a screenshot of the index summary. Note that no country has yet hit the "inflection point":

MPRIScreenshot.png
A screenshot of the MasterCard Mobile Payments Readiness Index (MPRI). Click here to access the full site.

Dan Rowinski at ReadWriteWeb has a nice analysis of the index. In part, he says much of the finance world, including MasterCard, may be viewing the mobile payment situation through "rose-colored glasses":

"For instance, why do mobile payments skew heavily toward young males in developed countries? The answer, more or less, is because it is cool. The actual need for mobile payments (NFC or otherwise) is not as clear in the U.S. as it is in other countries, like Kenya and Singapore."

Mobile shopping needs faster carts

Michael Darnaud, CEO of i-Cue Design, proposed a solution this week for one of the major problems with mobile shopping: speed, or lack thereof. In a post at Mobile Commerce Daily, he says the steps to a purchase simply take too long because of the number of data transfers involved:

"Just clicking a button to 'add,' 'delete' or 'change quantity' on the mobile Web requires sending transaction data from the shopper's mobile device to the vendor's server — average three to five seconds — via cell towers, not high-speed cables. These interim steps, long before checking out, are the challenge — it is all about time."

"Time is money" is no joke in mobile commerce. Darnaud notes: "A recent Wall Street Journal article declared that sales at Amazon increase by 1 percent for every 100 milliseconds it shaves off download times." To that end, he suggests an improvement to online cart technology that "reduces the time it takes to 'add,' 'delete' or 'change quantity' by virtually 100 percent because it eliminates the need for a server call for each of those commands." He describes his solution:

"This 'instant-add' cart solution requires nothing but familiar HTML and JavaScript. It is an incremental change that can be inserted into virtually any new or existing cart.

And what that means to a customer arriving at your site on the mobile Web is that he or she can see a product, click 'add to cart' and have no forced page change or reload or waiting time at all as a result."

Darnaud also notes the "elegance" of the solution: "... it forms a perfect bridge between desktop and mobile Web. The reason is simply that it works identically on both, via the browser."

Tip us off

News tips and suggestions are always welcome, so please send them along.

Related:

May 04 2012

Top Stories: April 30-May 4, 2012

Here's a look at the top stories published across O'Reilly sites this week.

The U.K.'s battle for open standards
Influence, money, a bit of drama — not things you typically associate with open standards, yet that's what the U.K. government is facing as it evaluates open options.

Mobile web development isn't slowing down
Over the last two years, mobile web development has continued its rapid evolution. In this interview, Fluent speaker and "Programming the Mobile Web" author Maximiliano Firtman discusses the short-term changes that caught his attention.

Editorial Radar: Functional languages
O'Reilly editors Mike Loukides and Mike Hendrickson discuss the advantages of functional programming languages and how functional language techniques can be deployed with almost any language.


Jason Grigsby and Lyza Danger Gardner on mobile web design
In this Velocity podcast, the co-authors of "Head First Mobile Web" discuss mobile website optimization, mobile design considerations, and common mobile development mistakes.

Parliament / Big Ben photo: UK parliament by Alan Cleaver, on Flickr


Fluent Conference: JavaScript & Beyond — Explore the changing worlds of JavaScript & HTML5 at the O'Reilly Fluent Conference, May 29 - 31 in San Francisco. Save 20% on registration with the code RADAR20.

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May 03 2012

Jason Grigsby and Lyza Danger Gardner on mobile web design

This Velocity podcast with Cloud Four founding members Jason Grigsby (@grigs) and Lyza Danger Gardner (@lyzadanger) centers on mobile web performance. It's a fitting topic since these two wrote "Head First Mobile Web." Jason and Lyza have interesting insights into building high-performance websites that are ready for mobile.

Our conversation lasted nearly 20 minutes, so if you want to pinpoint any particular topic use the specific timing links noted below. The full interview is embedded at the end of this post.

  • The difference between a website and a mobile website 00:00:50
  • What tools are available for determining your performance benchmarks for a mobile web site? 00:03:18
  • What considerations need to be taken into effect to truly build a site that performs like greased lightning? 00:05:02
  • Has Google improved its Android browser to catch up with the Chrome browser? 00:07:04
  • What are some of the most common mistakes or patterns that developers make when building a mobile web site? 00:08:08
  • What do the two terms "mobile-first responsive web design" and "progressive enhancement" mean? 00:12:36
  • How do you make progressive enhancements when one Android phone may have five different browsers? Do you have five forks of a code base? 00:13:30
  • How do developers pick up best practices for mobile web development? 00:15:38
  • The mobile platform keeps growing and bringing lots of change. 00:17:13

If you would like to hear Jason Grigsby speak on "Performance Implications of Responsive Web Design," he is presenting at the 2012 Velocity Conference in Santa Clara, Calif. on Tuesday, June 26 at 1 pm. We hope to see you there.

Velocity 2012: Web Operations & Performance — The smartest minds in web operations and performance are coming together for the Velocity Conference, being held June 25-27 in Santa Clara, Calif.

Save 20% on registration with the code RADAR20

Related:

March 30 2012

Patterns snap mobile app designs into place

In the following interview, "Mobile Design Pattern Gallery" author Theresa Neil (@theresaneil) discusses interface design trends, the one app design mistake that pops up again and again, and the apps that get UI right.

What are the most interesting trends you're seeing in mobile interface design?

Theresa Neil: I'm most interested in the trends that arise when app makers try to address a cross-device design strategy. For example, the Springboard pattern — a grid of icons acting as a launchpad — is a popular navigation pattern since it is "OS neutral." Meaning, it doesn't rely on bottom tabs like iOS and BlackBerry, or on top tabs like Android, Windows Mobile and Symbian. The Springboard pattern can be easily adapted for each operating system without feeling foreign or weird to the user.

Sprinboard design pattern
The Springboard design pattern features a single page with multiple menu options. This pattern works well across mobile operating systems. (Screenshot from "Mobile Design Pattern Gallery.")

Your book includes UI "anti-patterns." What are those?

Theresa Neil: Anti-patterns are examples of mobile UI design patterns to avoid. Bill Scott, my co-author of "Designing Web Interfaces," has had a popular talk for many years featuring anti-patterns in web applications. We could just write off these examples as bad designs, but I think it is important to dig into them and figure out why they are bad.

What is the most common mobile UI mistake?

Theresa Neil: Anti-pattern no. 1 is "novel notions." Novel notions refer to designs that use a "novel" approach to a problem that could otherwise be solved with an existing pattern, a standard UI control, or a better metaphor.

This is not to say designers should dial back their creativity. Apps like Flipboard, Path and Clear have blazed a trail with novel solutions to navigation. But novel designs need to be rigorously tested and refined before being released. Just look at the reviews in the App Store: For every awesome app like Path, there are dozens of other apps that are rated one star for bad navigation or a confusing interface.

Which mobile apps have notable UI design?

Theresa Neil: Flipboard, Path, Clear — the typical superstars. But I also love Evernote, Trip Journal, Foursquare and Fring because these companies have done spectacular work with their app design strategies. For example, look at Foursquare on a BlackBerry, iPhone or a Windows 7 phone; the apps are optimized for each of the different operating systems, but they still feel like the same app.

Mobile Design Pattern Gallery — This book provides a reference to 70 mobile app design patterns, illustrated by more than 400 screenshots from current iOS, Android, BlackBerry, WebOS, Windows Mobile, and Symbian apps.

This interview was edited and condensed.

Related:

Reposted byRKidoitforthelulz

January 17 2012

Mobile interfaces: Mistakes to avoid and trends to watch


Drawing on a tabletIn the following interview, "Designing Mobile Interfaces" co-author Steven Hoober discusses common mobile interface mistakes, and he examines the latest mobile device trends — including why the addition of more gestures and sensors isn't wholly positive.

What are the most common mobile UI mistakes?

Steven Hoober: The biggest issues are common to everyone, and they're strategic. Specifically, don't make a decision on what or how you are going to develop for mobile without some good thinking and some research. For example, your product might be best on the web, or as an SMS service, or 60% of your customers are on BlackBerry. Developing an iPhone app will not get the benefits you'd expect in these cases.

Related to this is making sure you have the right data. I see lots of people who suddenly reveal that 90% of their desktop web clicks are coming from, for example, iPad. Much of the time, shocking numbers like this are simply wrong, and the analytics tool is being tricked. Or, there is some other driver, such as that the site works poorly on Firefox, and it's redirected to a dumbed-down version on most handsets, so no one uses it.

Mobile must never be a dumbed-down, limited experience. Sure, it can be different from the desktop, but users expect all information everywhere they go now. Don't make them go to the desktop site or use their desktop for some parts of your product. If you do, they will probably find a competitor that doesn't make them do this.

Lastly, make sure that you are addressing the whole mobile experience — from the way an app is sold in the store or market to the password-reset email. Each of these elements can break the customer's experience enough that they might just stop using your product.

What recent mobile UI and mobile trends — good or bad — have caught your attention?

Steven Hoober: I fear that gesture is getting out of hand. More and more gestures are being added, and far too many are at the operating-system (OS) level. At first, I liked this for consistency, but now I'm seeing that it risks interfering with getting work done. OS-level gestures supersede good ideas at the app level, or they will prevent app developers from coming up with interesting gestural interfaces that fit their specific needs.

Additionally, I fear that using gesture alone is making the discovery of functions and features even more difficult. Basic functions are becoming "Easter eggs." The trend away from menus means that sometimes it's impossible to find a feature you just know is in there. We need buttons and lists and controls, at least as secondary functions.

Also, for good and bad, we're getting more sensors in devices. Near-field communication (NFC) is a good example. But theses sensors are all too often being used as deliberate, direct technology in the way GPS is tied to driving directions. Mobile sensors — and radios — can and should be used for lots of other purposes.

What do you see as the core UI difference between smartphones and tablets?

Steven Hoober: Larger screens should mean more collaboration and sharing. Tablets, used hand held or as kiosks, seem to encourage joint usage, but they are often designed as individual platforms. Even in the book, we conflated all mobiles as personal, but that's partly because the operating systems are set up this way now. I'd like to see more exploration of simultaneous, multi-user interfaces to exploit the platform.

Designing Mobile Interfaces — With hundreds of thousands of mobile applications available today, your app has to capture users immediately. This book provides practical techniques to help you catch — and keep — their attention. You'll learn core principles for designing effective user interfaces, along with a set of common patterns for interaction design on all types of mobile devices.

Related:

Reposted byRK RK

December 16 2011

Top Stories: December 12-16, 2011

Here's a look at the top stories published across O'Reilly sites this week.

Five big data predictions for 2012
The coming year of big data will bring developments in streaming data frameworks and data marketplaces, along with a maturation in the roles and processes of data science.

A war story, a Kindle Single, and hope for long-form journalism
Instead of walking his latest long-form story door to door, freelance journalist Marc Herman decided to blaze his own trail — he published the story as a Kindle Single. In this interview, he talks about the Kindle Single experience and offers his take on the future of journalism.

You can't get away with a bad mobile experience anymore
Mobile used to carry built-in caveats around speed and design, but those excuses are now wearing thin. In this interview, Strangeloop's Joshua Bixby examines the evolution of mobile expectations and how companies should adapt.

An angel who bets on women-led companies
Joanne Wilson discusses becoming an angel investor, how investors can help change the ratio of women CEOs, and the Mars versus Venus approach to entrepreneurialism.

Where is the OkCupid for elections?
What will be the "OkCupid for elections" in 2012? Open-source app OkCandidate.com offers one approach, and startup ElectNext is applying data analysis with an issue-matching engine.


Tools of Change for Publishing, being held February 13-15 in New York, is where the publishing and tech industries converge. Register to attend TOC 2012.

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