It’s been kicking around for a while now - m (for mobile)-commerce.

It’s been kicking around for a while now -

m (for mobile)-commerce.

If you haven’t come across it yet, you can expect to soon. It originates

from the same bunch of people who have been throwing around ’e’ prefixed

words with wanton abandon. There, I said it. Wanton.

People have already managed to take the ’e’ thing to extraordinary


Seemingly working through the dictionary sticking an ’e’ in front of a

whole array of innocent and unsuspecting words.

Most of these are pretty annoying, but their use pales into

insignificance in the face of the onslaught from such ’e’ regulars as

e-tailers, e-tailing, e-shops and e- shopping. Not to mention that

staple, e-business.

Lots of people have been taken in by this abuse of language which, at

times, is nothing more than a bunch of bad puns. Take a look at the

Financial Times. In its desire to be hip to anything internet related it

proudly declares itself the ’paper of the e-conomy’. Geddit?

As the pace of wireless application protocol (’yeah, we’re a WAP-tail

company’) increases and more services come on-stream, let’s hope we are

not in for a bout of m-shops and m-tailers. Of course, the ’m’

bastardisation is no worse than any of the others except it will never

catch on.

For a start, Americans don’t have mobile phones. They have cell phones

or cellular phones (c-commerce, I think not). The French have ’un port-

able’ (un-business? Well it might make sense to some) and the Germans

have ’ein handy’ (sounds more like a chain of 7-11s than anything


Sure, the Spanish call their portable phones mobiles but an

Anglo-Spanish alliance would never last.

Of course, I have no right to moan about such abuses of languages and

three-letter acronyms - ranking highly on the jargonogaphy scale as I

do. It is just too difficult to resist the temptation of attempting to

come up with a new phrase and trying to get it into print.

’Brit tech’ is the latest. I managed to get this into a recent

purchase-driven disposable income discussion about the merits of Palm

Pilots versus Psions. I’ve decided that ’Brit tech’ is kind of like

’Brit pop’ but about British technology such as Psion. Brit tech makes a

lot of sense if you think about it (please do). It’s cooler than fading

Brit pop and Psions are really more fun than recent Oasis albums.

But I digress, this is a serious issue. The language-grab that has

developed alongside the internet land-grab. It’s as though the

self-defined buzz that surrounds some of these new half-breed words

clouds over the fact that a new company has just launched and it shifts

boxes - but on the internet! The buzz words, in some cases, are about as

interesting as it gets.

Take a second and think back. There was the ’information superhighway’,

or, occasionally, when you were feeling lazy, the ’I-way’ or even the


Then there were those who were convinced that the future was in

’infotainment’ and ’eductainment’. Information was going to be fun and

cool and we were all going to have rooms full of CD-Roms. Some even bet

the company on it. Just ask Dorling Kindersley.