Monday, August 1, 2011

People Commerce

We are experiencing a mobile revolution. Nielsen now projects that half the mobile universe will own a smartphone by the end of the year. One implication: sellers will be able to connect with buyers that have an ephemeral need. Welcome to the new world of “people commerce.”

Read On:
I am certain that most of you reading this post have experienced eBay or Craigslist, two services that created a marketplace for buyers and sellers. The difference with “people commerce” is that it’s mobile, location based and all about real time availability. People connect regarding goods and services that normally do not have a marketplace because they are valued differently. A good example is parking. Earlier in the year, two San Franciscans introduced Park Circa. Owners register their parking space, availability and asking price. Buyers who are driving into San Francisco can use their smartphones to locate a space that meet their immediate needs. Travel is going to be a natural for “people commerce”. Airbnb, 9flats Roomarama, etc. are relatively new companies that connect people who are willing to rent a spare room or even a tree house to adventurous travelers on the move who are looking to save a few dollars plus gain insight on how local residents live. One company that has been receiving a lot of ink is Zaarly which was launched at SXSW in Austin in May. Partly funded by Ashton Kutcher, the app enables buyers to enter their need which Zaarly broadcasts via Twitter to line up potential sellers. Buyers can then connect and negotiate with sellers via an anonymous party-line or a face to face rendezvous. So think about it, when iPad 3 is finally introduced, what would you be willing to pay a seller who has been camping out for days at the Apple Store for his or her space?

Oh by the way, I understand the heat wave is going to continue here in Philadelphia this week. I am looking for a backyard with a pool and a Weber cooker for a two day rental.


  1. Funny you should mention Zaarly... Crain's featured them here:

  2. Thanks for the post Jim. It's very interesting to see how mobile phones are changing the landscape for commerce. It opens up commerce for the regular person too.

  3. I'm sure you've heard about the liability issues that Airbnb is having. They really botched their PR and just recently stood down and are insuring homeowners up to $50,000 per visit.

  4. Thank you everyone. Parissa I will check out the Crain's article. Rebekah I picked up on a post that someone's house was cleaned out thanks to a Airbnb connection. Reggie: Any biz ideas?

  5. Mobile is changing the landscape, and will grow exponentially over the next year or so. A guy at our book club now scans credit cards from his iPhone for our dues or if we buy a book. Receipt sent via email. He is not a store employee...just a guy in the club. Ever more important will be security and encryption issues. But its coming.

  6. Jimmy,

    As noted in some of the other comments, unintended events occur when technology is way ahead of custom and customers.

    Security, privacy, and liability will continue to be the drag on new product/service introductions. The companies that get it right will succeed, those that ignore these aspects in the rush to market will fail.

    Re: the heat, I have a child's wading pool and old hibachi that you can have.

  7. So many ideas - so many of them great - but only a few will fly! We seem to be looking at an eBay for services - surely someone will crack it. Incidentally my son had the Park Circa idea 6 years ago - he should have gone with it.

    The humidity here in London is about 900% - and no sun, just hot rain

  8. Sure Jim, give me three more reasons not to put my darn smartphone down! It really is amazing when youthing about how many functions these little devices can perform.

    They are definitely here to stay...until they built one that is surgical implanted ;)

    Hope you were able to beat the heat!