Are we mobile yet?

NO DOUBT WE’RE ALL GETTING A LITTLE TIRED OF HEARING that mobile commerce is coming and that we need to get in on it now. Tell us something we don’t know.

So is mobile finally here for real? Well, when merchants as diverse as The Catholic Co. and King Arthur Flour are developing mobile sites or strategies, it seems mobile has gone mainstream. Early adopter Moosejaw, which launched its first mobile site in 2006, is already on its second mobile site, unveiled more than a year ago.

Numerous surveys show that consumers are fast embracing mobile. According to AdMob’s February 2010 Mobile Metrics Report, smartphones accounted for 48% of AdMob’s worldwide traffic, up from 35% in February 2009. The rise is attributed to the serious growth of iPhone and Android traffic, and is fueled by heavy use of applications. In absolute terms, AdMob says that smartphone traffic increased 193% over the last year.

Then there’s the iPad launch in April. Apple sold 1 million units of the hybrid laptop-touch screen mobile device in no time. King Arthur Flour, for one, is already seeing an impact from the iPad. About 75% of the mobile browsers detected in its analytics are from iPhones, says Halley Silver, its director of online services; about 15% of those devices are from the iPad.

The iPhone has been the game-changer for most merchants in terms of m-commerce in that it made the mobile Web accessible to more users. I would have to agree with that, not because I have an iPhone, but because I want one.

And I’ve never personally had much interest in mobile devices: I rarely use my cell phone and never quite mastered the art of texting. (Yeah, I’m that person.) But there’s something magical about the iPhone; I also hear good things about the Droid.

I’m certainly not the last holdout on the mobile front. In fact, consultant Amy Africa speculates in our cover story “Answering mobile’s call” that the reason many merchants fear m-commerce is because they still don’t use mobile themselves. But if I’m ready to take the plunge, mobile’s time has come.

By the way, when I do get my iPhone, I’ll be using it primarily to surf the Web — never mind the phone or the texting. And like most demanding consumers, I’ll expect your sites to be ready.

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