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
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
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.