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Originally Published on Smart Phone Top 10

It’s so easy, so convenient and so magical. No, I’m not referring to the latest device by Apple, but one of the underlying processes that changed the fundamental dynamics of making a purchase on mobile devices: Apple’s one-click payment system, or iCurrency. Yes, I know, there is no such thing called iCurrency. Call it whatever you like, the fact is – today, Apple has driven more than 10 billion downloads of digital content through iTunes (e.g., music, movies, TV shows and e-books, etc.). If Apple opens up their one-click system to mobile and online retailers and other businesses, they will surpass PayPal. Moreover, Apple will achieve what mobile carriers have been trying unsuccessfully to do for the last 15 years: process all consumer purchases through mobile devices. How? The three main drivers Apple has in its favor include (1) enablement of impulse buys, (2) trust from consumers and (3) proliferation across over 100 million iOS devices.

Digital content has evolved tremendously over the last 10 years – from ringtones and simple WAP games on the carrier decks, to robust applications, games, movies, songs, books, in-game currencies and much more. Considering the multitude of mobile devices we carry and our need for on-the-spot satisfaction as a society, our love for digital content and our ability to blindly follow, the magical one-touch button will only continue to grow exponentially.

My theory of iCurrency domination stems partly from my own personal experience and the fact that companies like Paypal have seen an increase in mobile transactions that are six times higher than in 2008. In fact, Paypal expects to close out 2010 with over $500 million in mobile transactions.

Embracing the Impulse

In the beginning, I made it a point to never purchase music or digital content (beyond Netflix) period. This changed in 2009. To date, I have amassed a bill of over $588 in apps, iTunes music and movie downloads. At first, my downloads were innocent enough: $0.99 iPhone apps, which turned into a song or two to help the commute move along. Soon, I was buying full albums of music that I already owned (just because it was easier than uploading the songs from my existing CD collection). Eventually, I started to rent movies from iTunes and then blindly bought apps without thinking twice. As I became more crazed for apps and music, it’s no surprise that I jumped on the iPad bandwagon as well. This opened up a whole new world where many of my favorite apps up sold me on their HD versions on the iPad. For example, I used Things by CulturedCode on a daily basis on my iPhone. Buying this $10 app led me to get the $50 Mac version and the $20 iPad version. All in all, I paid $80 to track my to-do list on multiple devices.
The impulse buy is clearly something that can lead to return purchases. It’s especially interesting that impulse purchases can train consumers to become comfortable with future purchases, without giving as much thought to price and/or necessity.

Consumer Trust

To help illustrate how Apple has captured consumer mindshare and trust in this marketplace, Mobclix conducted an impromptu survey on our mobile ad exchange network. The sample size included 982 iPhone users through various games, health and fitness apps [1]. Of those surveyed, 756 users spent between $6 and $25 a month on apps, while 89 users spent over $26 a month on apps – which is the equivalent to buying one $0.99 app a day.

What’s even more interesting is that close to 77 percent of all participants purchased content – that’s significantly higher than the 1 to 2 percent conversion rates on casual PC games. This level of participation is not only indicative of a trustworthy platform, but also of coupling software and content with incredible devices which have yet to be surpassed.

Let’s Put the One-Touch Button Everywhere

Digital content is a big part of our daily lives. The way we purchase, use and consume content has drastically changed. Most consumers are already conditioned to use a one-touch payment button on Amazon and iTunes. It’s now only a matter of time before people can walk into the mall, pick out some clothes and accessories, and then hit a “purchase on your mobile phone” button.
That being said, before any ubiquitous one-touch payments model can proliferate, it needs to be trusted by consumers in order to dominate the market. Today, Apple has that trust and is poised to jump in feet first – if it decides to open up its purchasing platform and allow other mobile commerce sites to integrate with it – to direct the market as mobile commerce begins to explode exponentially on all fronts.

[1]This case study was based on the results of 982 completed surveys. Participants were not provided with incentives or compensation to complete the survey. All participants were over the age of 18 and were based in the United States and Canada when the survey was conducted.

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