What the iPhone 4S Means for Mobile Commerce

Charles Nicholls

Many people have been waiting for the new iPhone 5 (including myself, stuck with a Jurassic-era 3GS), so you may be disappointed with the more minor upgrade announced yesterday in the form of the new iPhone 4S. Disappointed or not, the iPhone 4S looks likely to sell by the truckload. After all, people said the iPhone 4 was disappointing, yet it sold an astonishing 1.7 million handsets in just three days after its June 2010 release.


But what does the iPhone 4S mean for mobile commerce? A raft of new features have upgraded the old 4, and while you might think these are just nice-to-haves, there are two new features that, in combination, have the potential to make mobile commerce significantly easier than before.


First, the three main problems with trying to make an online purchase with an existing smartphone can be summarized as follows:


  • Small screen: The physical size of a smartphone screen makes entering personal data, such as delivery details, a major chore - sufficient to deter many purchasers.
  • Download speeds: Downloading product category pages with 30 or more images can be so painful that many mobile visitors will bail. This problem is gradually being addressed as merchants roll out mobile-optimized sites, but it is still a very real issue.
  • Payments: Payment methods have not yet caught up with developments in handsets. Entering payment data onto a smartphone is possible, but a long way from easy. While all the major payment companies and a host of new ones are working on mobile payments, they're not quite there yet.


So how does the iPhone 4S help address these issues?


  • A5 Processor and Faster Download Speeds


Apple claims that the 4S has up to two times more processor speed and up to seven times faster graphics due to its dual-core A5 chip. This should mean that Web pages download and render up to twice as fast as on the old iPhone 4. Download speeds are also claimed to have been boosted up to 14.4 mbps, which should mean faster connections, faster loading and reloading, and faster download. GSM and CDMA networks are also supported.


Siri Voice Assistant


While Siri doesn't help with the small screen issue or offer a better way of making payments, it could alleviate these problems by enabling users to input data by voice. Apple describes Siri as "The intelligent assistant that helps you get things done."


For example, you can use voice control to set reminders, send texts and check the weather. Check out some of Apple's examples and the demo video here.


While it is really impressive in the demo, it remains to be seen how well this will work in action. Voice control is notoriously difficult, such as when the speaker has an accent or when there is background noise. Equally, if you have to learn a specific vocabulary that the voice control can recognize, then the system will fall at the first hurdle. However, it seemed to work very effectively at the launch event and appears to be robust. It will only be available initially in English, French and German, with other languages to follow.


While Apple's demo is heavily focused on personal productivity, the technology itself has significant implications for mobile commerce. When Apple purchased the company behind the technology in April 2010, Siri had an altogether larger scope.


For example, you can ask Siri to find tickets for the theatre, and with your permission, it can go ahead and make reservations or buy tickets, as well as use your location and context automatically. It does this by calling the relevant Web services, including Wolfram Alpha and a host of others such as Open Table. At the point that Apple bought Siri, it was already integrated with more than 30 different Web services.


Apple has clearly focused on integrating Siri into the iPhone 4S in a way that should bring voice control to the masses really for the first time. Hopefully, this deep integration will mean that common tasks become flawlessly simple.


So, while the processing speed increase is no doubt a plus, it is unclear to what extent Siri will ease mobile commerce on the iPhone. Will the Siri interface work with retailers' apps or with comparison shopping engines, for example? If it does, then mobile commerce just got a whole lot more interesting.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post

Oct 10, 2011 4:30 AM Lauren Lauren  says:

The idea is to make mobile commerce more flexible and faster so that consumers will find it convenient to shop using their smart phones. Retailers and software developers will really need to get this nailed down before the sale season starts soon.



Nov 26, 2011 4:58 AM Alvin V Alvin V  says: in response to Lauren

Developing an iPhone app has changed from a luxury to a necessity for online companies. The iPhone 4S camera gives you 8 megapixels - that's 60 percent more pixels than the camera on iPhone 4. And they're engineered with a higher, full-well capacity to collect even more light. With more megapixels and more light, you'll see a dramatic difference in the resolution and details of your images.Apple's iPhone sales have continued to grow nonstop since its introduction in 2007, and in the third quarter of 2011 alone had a 142 percent increase in sales.  On July 7, 2011, Apple's 15 billionth app was downloaded. With more than 200 million iPhones and counting on the market today, trying to do business without an iPhone app is a difficult uphill battle. Read more here: http://www.appisaurus.com/iphone-development/

Dec 3, 2012 3:24 AM ChristyRodriguez ChristyRodriguez  says:
HI ! iPhone 4S looks likely to sell by the truckload. After all, people said the iPhone 4 was disappointing, yet it sold an astonishing 1.7 million handsets in just three days after its June 2010 release. but Three Major Problems are : Small Screen Download Speed Payment Reply
Dec 11, 2012 8:10 PM ChristyRodriguez ChristyRodriguez  says:
HI ! iPhone 4S main reliable features are it's processor and faster mobile speed then other smart phones. In other smart phones we have to suffer because of it's small screen, download speeds and payments. payment procedures are not developed in it. Reply
May 2, 2013 5:17 PM Hod Hod  says:
Very important post to me. iPhone 4S for mobile commerce is so good. Thanks a lot. Reply

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