Magento Mobile – Messiah for m-Commerce?

Recent release of the new software for the mobile commerce hasn’t caused huge media wave but we believe this event should not be underestimated. Magento has a great experience in playing these tricky ecommerce games so the new Magento Mobile will now be treated as one of the leaders among all mobile ecommerce platforms. Actually the release of Magento Mobile responds one of the main web trends – web goes mobile and it is logical that more and more companies are looking for opportunities to conquer this market with their products. The problem is that they had very few options for bringing their store to mobile web. Will this change now?

The m-Commerce is a “Land of Opportunities”

Mobile market is attractive for entrepreneurs because it is young and the most important thing about it is that the demand is much higher than the proposition – this obviously means that you can gain huge profits. If we mention mobile revenues and mobile web opportunities it is also quite reasonable to say that eBay – one of the world’s largest ecommerce projects – has obtained $500M in 2009 from mobile ecommerce (even though eBay’s mobile application is just an adopted version of their web store it’s still better for mobile users than the ordinary version).

Today there are no strong Mobile ecommerce applications available out there and this current situation shows that mobile ecommerce market has faced the interesting situation when the audience is ready for online shopping via mobile devices but there’s no reaction from store owners that in turn don’t have decent means for bringing their online stores online. The problem is that most of mobile browsers are rather slow and can’t provide customers with the browsing experience that we are used to while shopping. So it is time to look at applications that can fix this situation without any complications.

What’s inside the box?

Here are some interesting features of Magento Mobile:

  • Admin manager
    It will be distributed as a module for existing Magento installations.  Magento mobile will be compatible with Community edition 1.3+, Enterprise 1.6+, and Professional 1.8+.
  • iPhone application
    That’s actually what Magento Mobile is about – it creates a fully customizable iPhone app of your store. This is especially interesting with all those recent iPhone announcements;
  • PayPal Integration
    You won’t be able to shop without making payments, right? This feature will facilitate payments for mobile-based shopping. PayPal mobile will be integrated into Magento Mobile.
  • Paid technical support
    For a fee the guys from Magento will handle the submission process of your application while you will be able to save a lot of time and focus on your business.
  • Seamless Storefront Integration
    Easily integrate mobile shopping application with your store’s catalog, checkout, inventory, reporting, and so on.
  • Multiple Devices
    Right now it’s apparently about iPhone only. And later this year, according to Magento, store owners will also be able to easily extend the mobile presence to the iPad and Android devices as well – with a single installation.
  • Fully Customizable
    Magento mobile admin will help to easily update appearance of the application, even after customers have downloaded the shopping app.
  • Engaging the Customers
    It is a great opportunity to use Magento Mobile as a strong marketing tool for building deeper relationships with your most profitable customers.

Of course we must mention the disadvantages as well -

  • iPhone application only
    Ok, maybe everyone loves iPhone apps. But when it comes to the store, you really want to have it as a website for people to be able to access it from the web anytime, without having to download an app. So the mobile version of a store would be the perfect variant here, iPhone app means certain limitations.
  • Limited compatibility
    It is not compatible with the iPad and Android devices so far. This is an early version of this application and more compatibility options are coming later this year according to Magento. Android and iPad are the versions that developers claim to be available soon.
  • Non-free
    Magento Mobile is non-free and you have to sign up and pay the fee for using this software. Actually this is not a very good move in terms of public image from Magento that has always been positioning itself as an open-source project, this new tool now seems more like a paid extension from their extensions directory. Moreover, they don’t actually disclose the pricing – you have to sign up first at Magento Mobile page.

Does Being the First Mean Being the Best?

So Magento made its move and it looks like Magento Mobile has pretty good chances to conquer this niche if it will keep moving fast. The thing is that now Magento Mobile is only good because it’s first and it’s known – there’s nothing else that we see will make it the leader.

And there are several other factors that might influence the current situation. What about the companies that produce eCommerce software? Once again, this particular one is a paid software which definitely plays against popularization of Magento Mobile. What if OsCommerce will create similar product that will be free – in this case we are sure many store owners will stick to what’s free. Or maybe further improvement of mobile web browsers technical performance will kill applications of this kind and no one will ever need mobile stores as we know them now? Of course we’re not denying that this new software now has its own audience and there’s a demand for it. But will Magento Mobile really become an ultimate m-Commerce solution? Will you as a store owner use it for launching your mobile store application? Or are there better variants than this? Let us know in the comments, we’re always happy to discuss.

Besides, we have recently published an article exploring the most conspicuous mobile web design trends for 2011. You might be interested to have a look at them and find some graphic approaches to consider for your custom mobile designs.

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