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2013: The Year You'll Shop by Photo on Your Mobile

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Of course, many of us already do but we're still in the minority; in 2013 shopping through mobile phones will become a mainstream activity. After many false predictions, 2012 really was the year of the mobile device.

Back in March at the world's largest mobile technology event at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with the exception of Apple (who only attend their own events) for the first time all the other technology giants like Google, Microsoft and Facebook saved their biggest launches for a mobile event. Even to those of us already signed-up to the future of mobile, this was the signal we needed to confirm that the money is no longer backing a world of desktop PCs and Macbooks but thinks the future is mobile.

Back in October another big mobile milestone was reached as Facebook reported that out of its one billion monthly active users, 60% are coming from mobile devices. All this increase in mobile usage and that fact that more mobile phones mean that more people carry quality cameras also pushed 2012 to become the year of the photo.

I know it seems like Pinterest and Instagram have been around forever but both had their breakout moments in 2012. Pinterest arrived from nowhere around this time last year and although Instagram has been around since October 2010, it was only in 2012 as it reached over 100,000 active users that Instagram began to worry Mark Zuckerberg who acted quickly to buy the mobile photo sharing app business along with its entire workforce of 13 employees for $1 billion.
Every year is touted as being the year of this or that but probably most significantly the dominance of mobile and photo sites likes Pinterest and Instagram have left the social/mobile sector with some clearly unfinished business; the ability to purchase products shown in photos.
In the UK people are getting into the habit of mobile shopping. According to Retail Week, over December, orders made using a mobile phone to Waitrose online grocery rose 30% over compared with December 2011, John Lewis broke the one million weekly visits barrier to its mobile website for the first time and Toys R US say mobile accounts for 40% of visits to the toy giant's website.

All this mobile shopping combined with our new found love of photos is also driving people to buy what they see. A study conducted by PriceGrabber of 4,851 US consumers reveals that 21% of people with a Pinterest account have purchased a product after seeing a picture on the site.
And yet, at the moment, Pinterest doesn't have way for people to buy things directly on the site. Instead members have to search for the products they find on the site and buy them through other sites, leaving Pinterest with no part in the sale (or profit). I guess they'll have that sorted for Christmas 2013.

The Fancy (thefancy.com), a New York-based business with Pinterest quality pictures has already made the jump from beautiful pictures to purchase. And they are filling up their team with people that know how to build social networks with photos; Mark Zuckerberg joined the Board of The Fancy a few months ago.

So there you have it, 2013 will be more mobile, more pictures and with the added ability to buy what's in the picture.