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In these times of recession, isn't it heartening to see that the behemoths of corporate consultancy can still afford to pay "analysts" to write silly reports full of long words and outlandish predictions?

This was the thought that occurred to me last week as I perused Accenture's press release about its new report on wireless devices. The report does make a few predictions that could well be based in serious research, namely that the global market for wireless Internet devices will grow 630 percent by 2005, and that there will be over 1.7 billion wireless connections by that time.

The "serious research" ends there, however. The main thrust of the report is that, in the future, ecommerce will be ubiquitous. Therefore, it will be called ucommerce instead. The press release also says that the future will be ubiquitous, something most of us had always taken for granted it would be.

The report has the rather sweeping title: 'The Future of Wireless: Different than You Think, Bolder than You Imagine'. In Ireland, the word "bold" is used far more as a synonym for "naughty" rather than "brave" or "fearless". If that's what Accenture meant too, well then the future of wireless is a whole lot different than I had thought.

Back to ucommerce. Accenture says that the "brave new world" of ucommerce will be one "where economic activity is ubiquitous, unbounded by the traditional definitions of commerce, and universal with everyday, around-the-clock broadband connectivity." In other words, we will all be shopping, all the time, with our always-on, high-speed mobile devices. I don't see this happening, to be honest.

Don't get me wrong. I love shopping. It is one of my very favorite activities. I long for the day that shopping is made an Olympic sport so that I can don a green shirt (in the latest style) and bring glory to Ireland in the five thousand euro shopping sprint.

No one, however, with the possible exception of Ivana Trump, can shop all the time. Even shopping would be boring if you could afford to do it all day, every day.

Accenture may argue that ucommerce is not about constant shopping but more about the ability to bill everything to your phone while you are shopping, but even that is a nightmarish scenario. What happens if your phone is lost or stolen? Will anyone be able to buy stuff with it? Will anyone be able to see what you have been buying with it?

Another of the defining characteristics of the world of ucommerce is that "every platform - the Internet, mobile devices, embedded sensors - interfaces with everything else." So every time you go shopping, your phone will be busy interfacing with embedded sensors, providing a rather handy record of exactly how and where you spend your days, and your money. Anyone got a number for the privacy police?

The third defining characteristic of the ucommerce world is that mobile devices will become "the one thing individuals cannot live without." Maybe I'm just in a Monday mood but this is a load of old nonsense. Yes, mobile applications are likely to become ever more numerous, ever more nifty, and ever more useful. But mobile devices will be the one thing individuals cannot live without? Let me see, food or my mobile device? Sure, I'd rather starve than lose the ability to pay for my parking spot by waving my phone at an embedded sensor.

There's plenty more tosh where this came from. For example, John Beck, Director of Research at the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change, said that Accenture believes "it is in the always-on world of uCommerce that the real value of the 'e' and 'm' will be realized". And there was me thinking that the true value of the 'e' and the 'm' was one Scrabble point and three Scrabble points, respectively.

The puffery just goes on and on. Accenture even gives us a women's magazine-type list of "Four ways for mobile devices to be more intimate, personal and social". These include "Make the devices about who users are, not what they do, so that colors, styles, and accessories allow them to become forms of self-expression." Mine's the pink Nokia with the Destiny's Child ringtone, then.

Frankly, I am just sick and tired of consultants and analysts foisting upon us their jardon-ridden, cliché-ridden, new-acronym-ridden reports about not very much at all. If they can't say what they have to say in plain English, and give us a few grounded economic projections while they're it, I would really rather they didn't bother.

I feel quite stressed now. Time for a little therapeutic shopping, I think.

 

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