RealTime IT News

Downloads for Those on the Go

Although the forecasts call for relatively slow growth in mobile shopping and travel purchases via cell phones and PDAs, e-commerce outsourcer Digital River is making a bet that over-the-air electronic software delivery will catch on big time.

The Minneapolis-based company said it plans to expand its presence in the mobile commerce (m-commerce) industry and will make available its digital library of more than 450 mobile-ready software titles in working with mobile device manufacturers.

The company also will make available its network of more than 10,000 software developers, shareware publishers and channel partners with the aim of "extending relationships to carriers in Europe, Asia Pacific and the United States."

Of course, the announcement follows a string of others designed to counter the recent decline in the company's stock price after Digital River lowered its guidance.

Still, this one appears significant and follows on the heels of a somewhat similar recent announcement by Sega in the mobile gaming sector.

"Our next-generation e-commerce platform supports wireless marketing, shopping and fulfillment services," said Joel Ronning, Digital River's CEO. "Our goal is to become a leader in the m-commerce arena by bringing all these resources to bear in an emerging market rich with global opportunity."

The new system will be available for use in a hosted or in-house environment, the company said.

By 2006 there will be almost 250 million cellular users in the United States with penetration approaching 85 percent, Digital River said. The question, of course, is how many will want to download over-the-air.

"We have nearly completed development of our next generation J2EE e-commerce server that includes unicode support for complete internationalization," said Gary Howorka, Digital River's CTO. "This new application allows business partners and customers to conduct Internet- and mobile-based processes as well as buy- and sell-side transactions via computers or wireless devices, such as cellular phones and PDAs."

"For ultimate flexibility, the e-commerce platform adheres to open standards and is device independent," Howorka said. Digital River already has e-commerce outsourcing agreements with three mobile device manufacturers.

"Our long-term vision is to be an integral part of wireless customers' lifecycles, including their purchases of handsets, accessories and digital products," Ronning said. "There is tremendous value here not only for prospective m-commerce clients, but also our existing e-commerce clients and channel partners."

It seems clear there is indeed some opportunity here, but the company still must buck the impression that mobile is largely an industry short on useful and premium content and services.

For instance, just last week the general sentiment at iWireless World was said to be that the wireless industry in the U.S., specifically the rollout of 3G mobile technology, is still uncertain.