Patents

Search All Patents:



  This Patent May Be For Sale or Lease. Contact Us

  Is This Your Patent? Claim This Patent Now.







Register or Login To Download This Patent As A PDF




United States Patent Application 20050131837
Kind Code A1
Sanctis, Jeanne De ;   et al. June 16, 2005

Method, system and program product for communicating e-commerce content over-the-air to mobile devices

Abstract

Product or service information in the form of selected wireless e-commerce content is transmitted from a server to a mobile device, such as mobile telephone or personal digital assistant. The e-commerce content is transmitted either in response to an explicit user request for communication of the e-commerce content, or, in the alternative, is "pushed" to the mobile device as permitted by a user but in the absence of a specific request. The e-commerce content received at the mobile device is presented to a user by the mobile device in textual or graphical format in conjunction with an indication of a communication needed to consummate an e-commerce transaction. If the user desires to purchase the good or service represented by the e-commerce content, the user initiates the communication indicated by the e-commerce content.


Inventors: Sanctis, Jeanne De; (New York, NY) ; Martin, Steve; (San Francisco, CA)
Correspondence Address:
    BRACEWELL & PATTERSON, LLP
    IP DOCKETING
    P.O. BOX 61389
    HOUSTON
    TX
    77208-1389
    US
Serial No.: 004526
Series Code: 11
Filed: December 3, 2004

Current U.S. Class: 705/64
Class at Publication: 705/064
International Class: H04L 009/00


Claims



That claimed is:

1. A method of facilitating wireless mobile e-commerce, the method comprising: (a) permitting users to designate user preferences in a data storage associated with a server having a program product, the user preferences including contact information for mobile devices and designations of products about which the users are interested in receiving mobile e-commerce content via the mobile devices; (b) selecting a product to be featured in a mobile e-commerce content responsive to the user preferences; (c) forming a mobile e-commerce content comprising a mobile alert that gives users an option to view a graphics-enabled application launched from within the mobile alert such that an application programming interface at the mobile devices interfaces with the data storage and the program product on the server regarding product suppliers to permit access to the mobile devices and product information; (d) selecting a user designating the product by reference to the user preferences in the data storage; (e) transmitting the mobile e-commerce content from the server to the mobile device of the user; (f) soliciting the user with the mobile e-commerce content on the mobile device regarding the product; (g) indicating on the mobile device that a communication is needed from the user to consummate a mobile e-commerce transaction involving the product; and (h) permitting the user to initiate the communication solicited by the mobile e-commerce content if the user desires to purchase the product and complete the mobile e-commerce transaction.

2. A method as defined in claim 1, wherein step (e) comprises making the mobile e-commerce content a type of communication selected from the group consisting of an e-mail for display to the user on the mobile device, a webpage for display to the user on the mobile device, and a telephone call to the mobile device, and wherein step (h) comprises receiving a contact from the user selected from the group consisting of an e-mail, a telephone call, and a response wherein the user selects a website link in the mobile e-commerce content.

3. A method as defined in claim 1, wherein step (e) comprises transmitting to a mobile device selected from the group consisting of a mobile telephone, an e-mail communication device, and a personal digital assistant.

4. A method as defined in claim 1, wherein step (e) comprises one of: transmitting in response to an explicit user request for communication of the mobile e-commerce content; and transmitting to the mobile device and soliciting the user in an absence of a specific request for said mobile e-commerce content from the user, and prompting the user to browse selected categories of products.

5. A method as defined in claim 1, further comprising transmitting a plurality of solicitations to the user for different products; and wherein step (f) includes presenting on the mobile device information regarding the product, and prompting the user via the mobile device to make a purchase of the product in response to the mobile e-commerce content.

6. A method as defined in claim 1, wherein step (g) comprises presenting the mobile e-commerce content received at the mobile device to the user of the mobile device in textual or graphical format, and presenting a description, a price, and an image of the product.

7. A method as defined in claim 1, wherein step (h) comprises prompting the user to actuate a purchasing key on the mobile device to indicate that the user wishes to purchase the product.

8. A method as defined in claim 1, further comprising: utilizing the server to provide a user interface through which the user can utilize the mobile device to establish a user account having a user login ID and associated password, a shipping address, and payment information; and storing a commerce history of the user indicating what products have been solicited to and purchased by the user via the mobile device.

9. A method as defined in claim 1, wherein step (h) comprises the user clicking on an icon displayed on the mobile device to make a purchase transaction, and further comprising permitting the user to forward the mobile e-commerce content from the mobile device to another device that can receive and display the mobile e-commerce content.

10. A method as defined in claim 1, wherein the server is an m-commerce server for serving the mobile e-commerce content, and step (c) comprises forming the mobile e-commerce content as an SMS message sent to a BREW-enabled mobile device, and upon receiving the SMS message, the mobile device prompts the user to view the SMS message and if the user views the SMS message, then a BREW application is opened so that the user can view more detailed information about the product described in the SMS message.

11. A method of facilitating wireless mobile e-commerce, the method comprising: (a) transmitting mobile e-commerce content from a server to a wireless mobile device; (b) soliciting a user of the wireless mobile device with the mobile e-commerce content on the wireless mobile device regarding a product; (c) presenting to the user on the wireless mobile device information regarding the product; (d) prompting the user on the wireless mobile device to make a purchase of the product in response to the mobile e-commerce content; (e) indicating to the user on the wireless mobile device that a communication from the user is needed to consummate a mobile e-commerce transaction involving the product; and (f) permitting the user to initiate the communication solicited by the mobile e-commerce content if the user desires to purchase the product represented by the mobile e-commerce content.

12. A method as defined in claim 11, further comprising, prior to step (a), downloading mobile device enhancement program product onto the wireless mobile device, selecting the product to be featured in the mobile e-commerce content, selecting a user designating the product by reference to a user preference, and permitting the user to designate user preferences that include contact information for at least one registered wireless mobile device, and to designate at least one group of products about which the user is interested in receiving mobile alerts via said at least one registered wireless mobile device.

13. A method as defined in claim 11, wherein step (a) comprises making the mobile e-commerce content a type of communication selected from the group consisting of an e-mail for display to the user on the wireless mobile device, a webpage for display to the user on the wireless mobile device, and a telephone call to the wireless mobile device, and wherein step (f) comprises receiving a contact from the user selected from the group consisting of an e-mail, a response wherein the user selects a website link in the mobile e-commerce content, and a telephone call.

14. A method as defined in claim 11, wherein step (a) comprises transmitting to a wireless mobile device selected from the group consisting of an e-mail communication device, a personal digital assistant, and a mobile telephone, and the method further comprising prior to step (a), downloading mobile device enhancement program product onto the wireless mobile device, the mobile device enhancement program product including application program interface program product and a set of instructions to enhance product purchase by the mobile device.

15. A method as defined in claim 11, wherein step (a) comprises one of: transmitting in response to an explicit user request for communication of the mobile e-commerce content; and transmitting to the wireless mobile device and soliciting the user in absence of a specific request for said mobile e-commerce content from the user.

16. A method as defined in claim 11, further comprising transmitting a plurality of solicitations to the user for different products, and prompting the user to browse selected categories of products.

17. A method as defined in claim 11, wherein step (c) comprises presenting the mobile e-commerce content received at the wireless mobile device to the user of the wireless mobile device in textual or graphical format, and presenting a description, a price, and an image of the product.

18. A method as defined in claim 11, wherein step (e) comprises prompting the user to actuate a purchasing key on the wireless mobile device to indicate that the user wishes to purchase the product.

19. A method as defined in claim 11, further comprising: utilizing the server to provide a user interface through which the user can utilize the wireless mobile device to establish a user account having a user login ID and associated password, a shipping address, and payment information; and storing a commerce history of the user indicating what products have been solicited to and purchased by the user via the wireless mobile device.

20. A method as defined in claim 11, further comprising permitting the user to forward the mobile e-commerce content from the wireless mobile device to another device that can receive, display, and enable the mobile e-commerce content to consummate the mobile e-commerce transaction.

21. A method as defined in claim 11, wherein the mobile e-commerce content comprises an SMS message sent to a BREW-enabled mobile device, and upon receiving the SMS message, the mobile device prompts the user to view the SMS message and if the user views the SMS message, then a BREW application is opened so that the user can view more detailed information about the product described in the SMS message.

22. A computer server presenting information as a mobile product selection service for mobile on-line product selection by users over a publicly accessible computer network, the computer server comprising: a processor; an interface connecting the processor to the publicly accessible computer network for mobile communication with users; a storage medium containing information about products for selection by users; said processor transmitting from the storage medium mobile e-commerce content relating to on-line products from a product selection website to solicit users with the mobile e-commerce content on mobile devices and forming in the storage medium records of the users' responses to the transmitted mobile e-commerce content; the processor further prompting the users on the mobile devices to make purchases of the products in response to the mobile e-commerce content and forming records of user responses on the storage medium; the processor further indicating to each user that a communication from said each user is needed to consummate a mobile e-commerce transaction involving the products; and the processor further permitting the users to initiate the communications solicited by the mobile e-commerce content if the users desire to purchase the products represented by the mobile e-commerce content over the publicly accessible computer network.

23. A computer server as defined in claim 22, further including the processor permitting users to designate user preferences on the storage medium that include contact information for registered mobile devices, and to designate groups of products about which the users are interested in receiving mobile alerts via said registered mobile devices.

24. A computer server as defined in claim 22, further including the processor presenting the mobile e-commerce content as a type of communication selected from the group consisting of e-mails for display to the users on the mobile devices, web pages for display to the users on the mobile devices, and telephone calls to the mobile devices, and receiving contacts from the users selected from the group consisting of e-mails, responses wherein the users select website links in the mobile e-commerce content, and telephone calls.

25. A computer server as defined in claim 22, further including the processor transmitting in response to one of explicit user requests for communication of the mobile e-commerce content; and an absence of specific requests for said mobile e-commerce content from the users.

26. A computer server as defined in claim 22, further including the processor transmitting a plurality of solicitations to the users for different products, and prompting the users to browse selected categories of products.

27. A computer server as defined in claim 22, further including the processor presenting the mobile e-commerce content received at the mobile devices in textual or graphical format, and presenting descriptions, prices, and images of the products.

28. A computer server as defined in claim 22, further including the processor: providing user interfaces through which the users utilize the mobile devices to establish user accounts having user login IDs and associated passwords, shipping addresses, and payment information; and storing commerce histories of the users indicating what products have been solicited to and purchased by the users via the mobile devices.

29. A computer server as defined in claim 22, wherein the mobile e-commerce content comprises an SMS message sent to a BREW-enabled mobile device, and upon receiving the SMS message, the mobile device prompts the user to view the SMS message and if the user views the SMS message, then a BREW application is opened so that the user can view more detailed information about the product described in the SMS message.

30. A system for providing a mobile product selection service for mobile on-line product selection by users over a publicly accessible computer network, the system comprising: a server computer at a site accessible to the computer network, the server computer having a processor, memory coupled to the processor to store operating instructions therein, and a graphical display coupled to the processor for displaying graphical images; a data storage accessible to the processor of the server computer and containing database records about product selection; a mobile device accessible to the computer network, the mobile device having a processor, memory coupled to the processor to store client application software therein, and to receive database records therein, a graphic display coupled to the processor for displaying graphic images; a mobile user interface for interfacing between the processor and the mobile device to provide user access over the computer network to manipulate the stored software and received database records; and machine-readable instructions stored in the memory of the server computer for causing the processor to perform the following operations: transmit from the server computer mobile e-commerce content relating to on-line products from a product selection website to solicit users with the mobile e-commerce content on mobile devices; form at the server computer prompts to the users on the mobile devices to make purchases of the products in response to the mobile e-commerce content; form at the server computer indications to the users that a communication from each user is needed to consummate a mobile e-commerce transaction involving the products; receive at the server computer communications from the mobile devices of the users if the users desire to purchase the products represented by the mobile e-commerce content over the publicly accessible computer network; and form at the server computer on the storage medium a record of the users' responses to the transmitted mobile e-commerce content.

31. A computer readable medium that is readable by a computer connected to a publicly accessible computer network to facilitate mobile e-commerce over the computer network with users, the computer readable medium comprising: a set of instructions that, when executed by the computer, cause the computer to perform the following operations: transmit from the computer mobile e-commerce content relating to on-line products from a product selection website to solicit users with the mobile e-commerce content on mobile devices; form at the server computer prompts to the users on the mobile devices to make purchases of the products in response to the mobile e-commerce content; form at the server computer indications to the users that a communication from each user is needed to consummate a mobile e-commerce transaction involving the products; receive at the server computer communications from the mobile devices of the users if the users desire to purchase the products represented by the mobile e-commerce content over the publicly accessible computer network; and form at the server computer on the storage medium a record of the users' responses to the transmitted mobile e-commerce content.

32. A computer memory element containing a stored in signal bearing media database, the database containing the following data in computer readable format: data indicating transmission of mobile e-commerce content to a user of a mobile device that is wireless, the mobile e-commerce content relating to on-line products from a product selection website for transmission to users on a publicly accessible computer network; data indicating solicitation of the user with the mobile e-commerce content on the mobile device regarding a product; data indicating presentation to the user on the mobile device information regarding the product; data indicating a prompt to the user on the mobile device to make a purchase of the product in response to the mobile e-commerce content; data indicating to the user on the mobile device that a communication is needed to consummate a mobile e-commerce transaction involving the product; and data indicating initiative by the user to respond to communication solicited by the mobile e-commerce content if the user desires to purchase the product represented by the mobile e-commerce content.

33. A computer system facilitating mobile e-commerce over a publicly accessible computer network, the computer system comprising: a processor; a storage medium having data accessible to the processor; an input/output for transferring data to the processor; the processor comprising: means for transmitting mobile e-commerce content from a server to a user of a mobile device that is wireless; means for soliciting the user with the mobile e-commerce content on the mobile device regarding a product; means for presenting to the user on the mobile device information regarding the product; means for prompting the user on the mobile device to make a purchase of the product in response to the mobile e-commerce content; means for indicating to the user on the mobile device that a communication is needed to consummate a mobile e-commerce transaction involving the product; and means for permitting the user to initiate the communication solicited by the mobile e-commerce content if the user desires to purchase the product represented by the mobile e-commerce content.

34. A method of facilitating wireless mobile e-commerce, the method comprising: (a) starting an application on a mobile device, the application having an encrypted, direct link to a mobile server and automatically sizing a mobile e-commerce content for a display of the mobile device; (b) communicating with the mobile server via the mobile device, the mobile server having access to a product website server for accessing product information therefrom regarding a product selection website; (c) downloading product information from the mobile server to the mobile device; (d) browsing the downloaded product information on the mobile device; (e) indicating a desire to purchase a product from the mobile device to the mobile server based on the downloaded product information; (f) entering the product selection website via the mobile device to consummate a purchase transaction; and (g) receiving verification of registered use at the mobile device and of the purchase transaction such that an entirety of the purchase transaction is conducted at the mobile device.

35. A method as defined in claim 34, further comprising the steps of tracking a shipment of the product with the mobile server, and sending information regarding the purchase transaction to the product website server.

36. A method as defined in claim 34, wherein step (f) comprises one of initially registering with the product selection website for a first time, and logging into the product selection website as a previously registered user.

37. A method as defined in claim 34, wherein step (d) comprises browsing images, data, and pricing for products.

38. A method as defined in claim 34, wherein step (a) comprises utilizing an application programming interface at the mobile device and encrypting the mobile e-commerce content.

39. A method as defined in claim 34, further comprising the step of selecting the product to be featured in the mobile e-commerce content, and permitting a registered user to designate user preferences that include contact information for at least one registered mobile device, and to designate at least one group of products about which the registered user is interested in receiving mobile alerts via said at least one registered mobile device.

40. A method as defined in claim 34, wherein step (a) comprises making the mobile e-commerce content a type of communication selected from the group consisting of an e-mail for display on the mobile device, a webpage for display on the mobile device, and a telephone call to the mobile device, and wherein step (e) comprises receiving a contact from the user selected from the group consisting of an e-mail, a response wherein the user selects a website link in the mobile e-commerce content, and a telephone call.

41. A method as defined in claim 34, wherein step (a) comprises transmitting to a mobile device selected from the group consisting of an e-mail communication device, a personal digital assistant, and a mobile telephone.

42. A method as defined in claim 34, wherein step (a) comprises one of: transmitting the mobile e-commerce content to the mobile device in response to an explicit user request for communication of the mobile e-commerce content; and transmitting the mobile e-commerce content to the mobile device and soliciting the user in absence of a specific request for the mobile e-commerce content from the user.

43. A method as defined in claim 34, further comprising: utilizing the mobile server via the mobile device to provide a registered user interface through which the user establishes a registered user account having a user login ID and associated password, a shipping address, and payment information; and storing a commerce history of the registered user indicating what products have been solicited to and purchased by the registered user via the mobile device.

44. A method as defined in claim 34, wherein the mobile e-commerce content comprises an SMS message sent to a BREW-enabled mobile device, and upon receiving the SMS message, the mobile device prompts the user to view the SMS message and if the user views the SMS message, then a BREW application is opened so that the user can view more detailed information about the product described in the SMS message.

45. A method of facilitating wireless mobile e-commerce, the method comprising: (a) registering a user at a mobile server via a mobile device to provide a registered user interface through which the user establishes a registered user account having a user login ID and associated password, a shipping address, payment information; (b) using a mobile server to establish an encrypted, direct link with the registered user starting an application on the mobile device and automatically sizing a mobile e-commerce content for display on the mobile device; (c) communicating with the mobile device via the mobile server, the mobile server having access to a product website server for accessing product information therefrom regarding a product selection website; (d) downloading product information from the mobile server to the mobile device; (e) permitting the registered user to browse the downloaded product information on the mobile device; (f) receiving an initiative from the mobile device to purchase a product at the mobile server based on the downloaded product information; (g) permitting the registered user to enter the product selection website via the mobile device to consummate a purchase transaction; and (h) sending verification of registered use to the mobile device and of the purchase transaction such that an entirety of the purchase transaction is conducted at the mobile device.

46. A method as defined in claim 45, further comprising the steps of tracking a shipment of the product with the mobile server, and sending information regarding the purchase transaction to the product website server.

47. A method as defined in claim 45, wherein step (b) comprises utilizing an application programming interface at the mobile device and encrypting the mobile e-commerce content, and wherein step (d) comprises browsing images, data, and pricing for products.

48. A method as defined in claim 45, further comprising the step of selecting the product to be featured in the mobile e-commerce content, and permitting the registered user to designate user preferences that include contact information for at least one registered mobile device, and to designate at least one group of products about which the registered user is interested in receiving mobile alerts via said at least one registered mobile device.

49. A method as defined in claim 45, wherein step (b) comprises transmitting to a mobile device selected from the group consisting of an e-mail communication device, a personal digital assistant, and a mobile telephone, and making the mobile e-commerce content a type of communication selected from the group consisting of an e-mail for display on the mobile device, a webpage for display on the mobile device, and a telephone call to the mobile device, and wherein step (f) comprises receiving a contact from the registered user selected from the group consisting of an e-mail, a response wherein the registered user selects a website link in the mobile e-commerce content, and a telephone call.

50. A method as defined in claim 45, wherein step (b) comprises one of: transmitting the mobile e-commerce content to the mobile device in response to an explicit request from the registered user for communication of the mobile e-commerce content; and transmitting the mobile e-commerce content to the mobile device and soliciting the registered user in absence of a specific request for the mobile e-commerce content from the registered user.

51. A method as defined in claim 45, wherein the mobile e-commerce content comprises an SMS message sent to a BREW-enabled mobile device, and upon receiving the SMS message, the mobile device prompts the user to view the SMS message and if the user views the SMS message, then a BREW application is opened so that the user can view more detailed information about the product described in the SMS message.
Description



CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This is a non-provisional patent application that claims priority to and the benefit of provisional patent application U.S. Ser. No. 60/529,688, filed Dec. 15, 2003, titled, Method, System and Program Product For Communicating E-Commerce Content Over-The-Air To Mobile Devices, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Technical Field

[0003] The present invention is directed to data communication and, in particular, to over-the-air or through-the-air communication of e-commerce content to mobile computing devices. Still more particularly, the present invention is directed to methods, systems and program products that enable an e-commerce server to distribute e-commerce content to mobile computing devices, which then present the content to encourage and facilitate a user concluding an e-commerce transaction involving over-the-air or through-the-air communication.

[0004] 2. Description of Related Art

[0005] E-commerce, that is, commercial transactions consummated through electronic communication (e.g., via the World Wide Web (WWW)), is a rapidly expanding segment of the global economy. In a typical e-commerce transaction, a desktop or laptop computer user decides upon a good or service that the user is interested in purchasing and then initiates access to a retailer's or service provider's e-commerce website via the WWW, perhaps after conducting a search for the website with a commercial search engine. After the desired e-commerce website is located, the user searches the website for the desired good or service, either by conducting a search of the website or by paging through the website content. The user may then add the desired product or service to a virtual "shopping cart" that collects the user's intended purchases by selecting a graphical "button" associated with a graphical or textual description of the good or service. After the user indicates that all intended purchases have been added to the virtual "shopping cart," the e-commerce website presents to the user a form into which the user enters and transmits payment information (e.g., a credit card number). Once the payment information is approved, the website presents to the user a confirmation that a transaction is complete and may indicate a delivery schedule or methodology.

[0006] The present invention recognizes that, from the perspective of both the e-commerce retailer and the user, the conventional e-commerce paradigm described above has a number of shortcomings. First, for example, commercial transactions are generally limited by the availability of a laptop or desktop computer, as well as network connectivity with the Internet. Even with the advent of publicly available wireless network connectivity (e.g., so called "wireless fidelity" (Wi-Fi)), access to a traditional computer and network connectivity still represents a significant restriction on the conduct of e-commerce. Second, for example, it is undesirable for a user to be forced to search for the goods and services out of the myriads of websites on the WWW. From the user's perspective, the search process can be time consuming and frustrating, and from the retailer's perspective, the retailer would like to ensure that the user finds the retailer's website and not that of a competitor. Third, for example, even if the user locates the user's website, the user may have difficulty locating the desired goods or services on the retailer's website, or the retailer may be out of stock of the desired goods.

[0007] These and other shortcomings collectively represent significant impediments to the conduct of e-commerce, which are addressed and overcome by the present invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] In view of the foregoing and in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention, selected wireless mobile e-commerce (hereinafter, "m-commerce") content, such as product or service information, is transmitted from a server to a mobile device, such as a mobile telephone or personal digital assistant ("PDA"). In one embodiment, for example, the m-commerce content is transmitted in response to an explicit user request for communication of the m-commerce content. The user is permitted to view an item on his or her mobile device and prompted to make a purchase (e.g., via a "buy" key or selecting an icon or toolbar on the mobile device). In another embodiment, the m-commerce content is "pushed" to the mobile device in the absence of a specific request. For example, such solicitations may occur multiple times per day, prompt the user to browse various "departments" or categories of goods or services, walk a user through a form for shopping, or combinations thereof.

[0009] The m-commerce content received at the mobile device can be presented to the user of the mobile device in textual or graphical format in conjunction with an indication of a communication needed to consummate an m-commerce transaction. If the user desires to purchase the good or service represented by the m-commerce content, the user initiates the communication indicated by the m-commerce content. In one embodiment, the present invention uses a wireless, web access protocol (WAP) that allows a user to visit a website via a mobile device and consummate an entire transaction (e.g., with a credit or debit card) through the mobile device.

[0010] In another embodiment, the present invention provides a method of facilitating wireless mobile e-commerce. A method, for example, includes permitting users to designate user preferences in a data storage associated with a server having a program product. The user preferences, for example, include contact information for mobile devices and designations of products about which the users are interested in receiving mobile e-commerce content via the mobile devices. The method also includes selecting a product to be featured in a mobile e-commerce content responsive to the user preferences, forming a mobile e-commerce content having a mobile alert that gives users an option to view a graphics-enabled application launched from within the mobile alert such that an application programming interface at the mobile devices interfaces with the data storage and the program product on the server regarding product suppliers to permit access to the mobile devices and product information, selecting a user designating the product by reference to the user preferences in the data storage. transmitting the mobile e-commerce content from the server to the mobile device of the user, soliciting the user with the mobile e-commerce content on the mobile device regarding the product, indicating on the mobile device that a communication is needed from the user to consummate a mobile e-commerce transaction involving the product, and permitting the user to initiate the communication solicited by the mobile e-commerce content if the user desires to purchase the product and complete the mobile e-commerce transaction.

[0011] In still another embodiment, the present invention provides a computer server presenting information as a mobile product selection service for mobile on-line product selection by users over a publicly accessible computer network. A computer server, for example, includes a processor, an interface connecting the processor to the publicly accessible computer network for mobile communication with users, and a storage medium containing information about products for selection by users. The processor transmits from the storage medium mobile e-commerce content relating to on-line products from a product selection website to solicit users with the mobile e-commerce content on mobile devices and forming in the storage medium records of the users' responses to the transmitted mobile e-commerce content. The processor further prompts the users on the mobile devices to make purchases of the products in response to the mobile e-commerce content, forms records of user responses on the storage medium, and indicates to each user that a communication from each user is needed to consummate a mobile e-commerce transaction involving the products. The processor further permits the users to initiate the communications solicited by the mobile e-commerce content if the users desire to purchase the products represented by the mobile e-commerce content over the publicly accessible computer network.

[0012] In yet another embodiment, the present invention provides a system for providing a mobile product selection service for mobile on-line product selection by users over a publicly accessible computer network. A system, for example, includes a server computer at a site accessible to the computer network. The server computer has a processor, memory coupled to the processor to store operating instructions therein, and a graphical display coupled to the processor for displaying graphical images. Data storage is also accessible to the processor of the server computer and contains database records about product selection. The system also includes a mobile device accessible to the computer network and having a processor, memory coupled to the processor to store software, and receive database records therein, and a graphic display coupled to the processor for displaying graphic images. The system further includes a mobile user interface for interfacing between the processor and the mobile device to provide user access over the computer network to manipulate the stored software and received database records and machine-readable instructions stored in the memory of the server computer for causing the processor to perform the following operations: transmit from the server computer mobile e-commerce content relating to on-line products from a product selection website to solicit users with the mobile e-commerce content on mobile devices, form at the server computer prompts to the users on the mobile devices to make purchases of the products in response to the mobile e-commerce content, form at the server computer indications to the users that a communication from each user is needed to consummate a mobile e-commerce transaction involving the products, receive at the server computer communications from the mobile devices of the users if the users desire to purchase the products represented by the mobile e-commerce content over the publicly accessible computer network, and form at the server computer on the storage medium a record of the users' responses to the transmitted mobile e-commerce content.

[0013] In another embodiment, the present invention provides a computer readable medium that is readable by a computer connected to a publicly accessible computer network to facilitate mobile e-commerce over the computer network with users. A computer readable medium, for example, includes a set of instructions that, when executed by the computer, cause the computer to perform the following operations: transmit from the computer mobile e-commerce content relating to on-line products from a product selection website to solicit users with the mobile e-commerce content on mobile devices, form at the server computer prompts to the users on the mobile devices to make purchases of the products in response to the mobile e-commerce content, form at the server computer indications to the users that a communication from each user is needed to consummate a mobile e-commerce transaction involving the products, receive at the server computer communications from the mobile devices of the users if the users desire to purchase the products represented by the mobile e-commerce content over the publicly accessible computer network, and form at the server computer on the storage medium a record of the users' responses to the transmitted mobile e-commerce content.

[0014] In addition, still another embodiment of the present invention provides a computer memory element containing a stored in signal bearing media database. The database, for example, contains the following data in computer readable format: data indicating transmission of mobile e-commerce content to a user of a mobile device that is wireless and the mobile e-commerce content being related to on-line products from a product selection website for transmission to users on a publicly accessible computer network, data indicating solicitation of the user with the mobile e-commerce content on the mobile device regarding a product, data indicating presentation to the user on the mobile device information regarding the product, data indicating a prompt to the user on the mobile device to make a purchase of the product in response to the mobile e-commerce content, data indicating to the user on the mobile device that a communication is needed to consummate a mobile e-commerce transaction involving the product, and data indicating initiative by the user to respond to communication solicited by the mobile e-commerce content if the user desires to purchase the product represented by the mobile e-commerce content.

[0015] According to embodiments of methods, program products, and systems of the present invention, an m-commerce server, for example, can advantageously have a client relationship with the mobile device, as understood by those skilled in the art, so that the communication between the server and the mobile device operates like a dedicated link. As such, the user has no need to separately access and search the Internet, enter a domain name or website address, scroll through a plurality of web pages and/or selections on a single page, find a product or service area in which the user is interested, scroll through more product selection screens, locate a product or service in which the user has a desire in purchasing or finding more information on the product or service, and somehow consummate an e-commerce transaction. Consummation of an e-commerce transaction often previously was difficult to accomplish, as the mobile device had no secure and efficient way to enter or receive credit card, debit card, or other payment information. Unlike embodiments of methods, program products, and systems of the present invention, this previous more tedious and time consuming process, for example, discourages users from initiating or consummating an e-commerce transaction via a mobile device, especially in view of a significant use of mobile device being when users are traveling, have little time between or during stops, and have other actions or operations occurring around them. In contrast, embodiments of methods, program products, and systems of the present invention provide enhanced e-commerce solutions with mobile devices so that retailer, wholesalers, or other businesses can reach mobile customers in an efficient and timely manner to receive requests for, selectively solicit, and consummate mobile commerce transactions.

[0016] Other features, benefits, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent in the following detailed written description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0017] Some of the features, benefits, and advantages of the present invention having been stated, others will become apparent as the description proceeds when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0018] FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a mobile e-commerce system and environment in which the present invention may be practiced;

[0019] FIG. 2 is a high level logical flowchart of an exemplary process by which an m-commerce server transmits mobile alerts to mobile devices in accordance with the present invention;

[0020] FIG. 3 is a high level logical flowchart of an exemplary process by which a mobile device processes e-commerce content received from an m-commerce server in a mobile alert in accordance with the present invention;

[0021] FIG. 4 depicts a sequence of wireframes representing the display of a mobile alert in a graphics-enabled mobile device in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

[0022] FIG. 5 is a high level logical flowchart of one embodiment of a method of facilitating mobile e-commerce via mobile e-commerce content in accordance with the present invention;

[0023] FIG. 6 is a flowchart of a method of facilitating mobile e-commerce according to an embodiment of the present invention; and

[0024] FIG. 7 is a block diagram of a mobile e-commerce system further illustrating communication to a mobile device according to an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0025] The present invention now will be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings in which embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention, however, may be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth and illustrated herein; rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout.

[0026] FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary mobile e-commerce (hereinafter, "m-commerce") environment 8 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown, the m-commerce environment 8 includes an m-commerce server 10 having associated data storage 12. The data storage 12 includes a product database 14 storing descriptions of a collection of products and/or services (hereinafter, the term "product" may be used to mean product, service, or both) offered for sale. In one embodiment, the product database 14 includes both textual and graphical information (e.g., a photograph) regarding the products and/or services. Products that are themselves capable of expression in digital form (e.g., programs, font sets, photographs, musical works, and movies) can also be stored within the product database 14.

[0027] The data storage 12 further includes a user database 16 containing account information for each user authorized to access the m-commerce server 10 to purchase goods and services from among the collection listed in the product database 14. The account information for each user preferably includes at least the user's mobile alert preferences 18.

[0028] The mobile alert preferences 18 include at least contact information for at least one registered mobile device (e.g., a telephone number or email address of the mobile device) and can further include a designation of at least one individual or group of products or services about which the user is interested in receiving alerts via the registered mobile device. The m-commerce server 10 accordingly preferably provides a subscriber interface through which the user can utilize a mobile device 30 and/or a conventional computer to designate a product or service of interest to that user. The designation can specify a range or group of products or services (e.g., automobiles, golf clubs, or discounted items) or can identify a specific product or service, for example, by catalog number, SKU, model number, or simply by description. The m-commerce server 10 can also store one or more designations individually for each user or can store such designations for groups of users.

[0029] Optionally, the account information stored within the user database 16 for each user can additionally include, for example, a user's login ID and associated password, physical mailing address, e-mail address, and payment information (e.g., bank account or credit card information). In addition, the account information can describe the hardware, software, and/or program products within the user's registered mobile device and a commerce history indicating what products and services have been advertised to the user via the registered mobile device and the user's previous m-commerce purchases.

[0030] The m-commerce environment 8, as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 7, further includes one or more mobile devices 30 (only one of which is illustrated). The mobile devices 30 within the m-commerce environment 8 can be implemented with any portable communication device capable of over-the-air or through-the-air radio frequency ("RF") communication, as understood by those skilled in the art, with the m-commerce server 10. For example, the mobile device 30 can be a mobile telephone, an email communication device (e.g., such as those sold under the trademark BLACKBERRY), a personal digital assistant (PDA), or other mobile device. Regardless of the embodiment, each of the mobile devices 30 preferably includes a display 32 (e.g., a liquid crystal display ("LCD")) capable of displaying the textual and/or graphical e-commerce content distributed by the m-commerce server 10.

[0031] In addition, in an embodiment in which one or more of the mobile devices 30 includes telephony functionality, the mobile device 30 can include a virtual or physical keypad 34 that, inter alia, can be utilized by the user to enter a destination telephone number, such as that of the call center 24, as described further below. In the illustrated embodiment, the mobile device 30 further includes a navigation device 36, such as arrow buttons,scroll knob, key, or dial, and a selection button 38 (e.g., a "buy" or purchasing key, icon, or toolbar). Arrow buttons 36, for example, can permit a user to navigate a cursor among textual or graphical options presented within the display 32, and depression of selection button 38 indicates user selection of the option designated by the cursor.

[0032] In the illustrated embodiment of the m-commerce environment 8 (see FIG. 1), the m-commerce server 10 is coupled (e.g., via the Internet or other link) by a communication network 20, or other communication link as understood by those skilled in the art, which may include one or more data, RF, telephony, satellite, or other over-the-air or through-the-air networks, to a base station system as understood by those skilled in the art, and such as including a cellular communication tower 22. As indicated at reference numeral 26, the m-commerce server 10 employs over-the-air or through-the-air radio frequency communication by a cellular communication tower 22 to distribute to the mobile device 30 e-commerce content representing goods or services listed in the product database 14 associated with the m-commerce server 10 that are available for purchase. Of course, in other embodiments, the e-commerce content can be delivered to the mobile device 30 over-the-air or through-the-air by an earth-orbiting satellite, Wi-Fi antenna, or other radio frequency transmitter. It will further be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the m-commerce server 10 can transmit the e-commerce content to all or only selected ones of the registered mobile devices listed within the mobile alert preferences 18.

[0033] In accordance with embodiments of the present invention, the e-commerce content can be transmitted either in response to an explicit user request for communication of the e-commerce content or, in the alternative, can be "pushed" to the mobile device in the absence of a specific request. The e-commerce content received at the mobile device 30 is preferably presented within display 32 in textual or graphical format in conjunction with an indication of a communication need to consummate an e-commerce transaction. If the user desires to purchase the good(s) or service(s) represented by the e-commerce content, the user initiates the communication indicated by the e-commerce content. For example, the user can initiate a wireless voice call from the mobile device 30 via the communication network 20, or otherwise communicate via the Internet, with the call center 24 at which a live or automated attendant concludes an m-commerce transaction with the user. In the alternative, for example, the user can communicate a purchase indication directly to the m-commerce server 10, which automatically concludes the desired m-commerce transaction. Notably, the call center 24 can also access the m-commerce server 10, such as through the Internet, to access additional products in the product database 14 for other desired communication needs to a user.

[0034] As perhaps best illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 7, in another example, embodiments of the present invention provide a computer server 10 that serves as a gateway for presenting information as a mobile product selection service for mobile on-line product selection by users over a publicly accessible computer network 20. The computer server 10, for example, includes a processor 11, memory 13, and a display 15, an interface 17 (e.g., an ethernet card) connecting the processor 11 to the publicly accessible computer network 20 for mobile communication with users, and storage medium 12 containing information about products for selection by users. The server 10, for example, also can have access to one or more other separate and remote servers 21 (e.g., for product selection websites), such as retailer, wholesaler, or other business servers having one or more databases 23 associated therewith containing information about products and/or users. This access can be through a global communication network, such as the Internet, a local area network, or other communication link as understood by those skilled in the art. The database 14, for example, can contain a subset of the information contained in one or more databases 23. The server 10 transmits from the storage medium 13 mobile e-commerce content relating to on-line products from, for example, a product selection website to solicit users with the mobile e-commerce content on mobile devices 30 and forms in the storage medium 13 records of the users' responses to the transmitted mobile e-commerce content. The server 10 further prompts the users on the mobile devices 30 to make purchases of the products in response to the mobile e-commerce content and forming records of user responses on the storage medium 12. The server 10 further indicates to each user that a communication from said each user is needed to consummate a mobile e-commerce transaction involving the products.

[0035] In addition, the server 10 further permits the users to initiate the communications solicited by the mobile e-commerce content if the users desire to purchase the products represented by the mobile e-commerce content over the publicly accessible computer network 20. Such as shown in FIG. 7, the m-commerce server 10, for example, can advantageously have a client relationship with the mobile device 30, as understood by those skilled in the art, so that the communication between the server 10 and the mobile device 30 operates like a dedicated link. As such, the user has no need to access the Internet, enter a domain name or website address, scroll through a plurality of web pages and/or selections on a single page, find a product or service area in which the user is interested, scroll through more product selection screens, locate a product or service in which the user has a desire in purchasing or finding more information on the product or service, and somehow consummate an e-commerce transaction. Consummation of an e-commerce transaction often previously could not be accomplished, as the mobile device 30 had no secure way to enter or receive credit card, debit card, or other payment information.

[0036] Unlike embodiments of methods, program products, and systems of the present invention, this more tedious and time consuming process, for example, discourages users from initiating or consummating an e-commerce transaction via a mobile device, especially in view of a significant use of mobile devices being when users are traveling, have little time between or during stops, and have other actions or operations occurring around them. In contrast, embodiments of methods, program product, and systems of the present invention provide enhanced e-commerce solutions with mobile devices 30 so that retailer, wholesalers, or other businesses can reach mobile customers in an efficient and timely manner to receive requests for, selectively solicit, and effectively consummate mobile commerce transactions.

[0037] FIG. 2 illustrates a high level logical flowchart of a process by which the m-commerce server 10 transmits e-commerce content to mobile devices in a mobile alert in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. The illustrated process can be executed by the m-commerce server 10 with or without administrative intervention, and can further be executed periodically, for example, daily or weekly. Hereafter, for ease of description, it will be assumed that the mobile alerts feature products rather than services. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, however, that the present invention is also applicable to mobile alerts featuring services.

[0038] Also, as shown in FIG. 7, and as will be understood by those skilled in the art, the mobile devices 30 can download client application software 41 to be stored in memory, e.g., flash memory 40, of the mobile device 30 and can include mobile device enhancement program product 42 or software and application program interface program product or software from an input/output having download 48, e.g., wireless or hardwire, capabilities associated with the mobile device 30 via a communication link 26 with another computer or the server 10, or be provided with client application program product or software upon purchase of the mobile device, to enhance client communication capabilities to the m-server 10, to enhance GUI displays to the user, and to enhance other features 44 for the user as a set of program instruction as understood by those skilled in the art and as described herein, such as mobile alerts, make purchase consummation, gathering account information, viewing detail on product, viewing past orders, shipment tracking, and security encryption.

[0039] As illustrated, the process begins at block 50 and thereafter proceeds to block 52, which illustrates the m-commerce server 10, such as through software stored in the memory 13, determining a particular product(s) within the product database 14 to be featured within a mobile alert. As noted above, the selection of one or more products at block 52 can be performed by a human administrator or can be performed by the m-commerce server 10, for example, based upon a high inventory level, age of inventory, sales history of the product, time of year, and/or other factors. As shown at block 56, the m-commerce server 10 then selects a set of mobile devices 30 to which a mobile alert featuring the selected product(s) will be transmitted. In one embodiment, the mobile devices 30 are selected based upon the mobile alert preferences 18. Because this embodiment of the invention only transmits mobile alerts to users that have subscribed to the mobile alert service and have indicated a preference for receiving information about the featured product(s), user response to receipt of the mobile alert is likely to be favorable.

[0040] The process then passes from block 56 to block 58, which illustrates the m-commerce server 10 transmitting an advertisement for the featured product to the mobile devices 30 selected at block 56. The mobile alert preferably includes a description of the product, the price of the product and, optionally, an image or picture of the product and/or the quantity in stock. The mobile alert preferably also includes an indication of a communication that the user can initiate from the mobile device 30 in order to facilitate purchase of the featured product. The mobile alert can be transmitted in a variety of different formats depending upon the bandwidth of the communication technology and the capabilities of the target mobile devices. For example, if the target mobile devices 30 are conventional mobile telephones, the mobile alert can include a Short Message Service (SMS) message. If, however, the target mobile devices are third generation (3G) binary runtime environment for wireless-enabled (BREW-enabled) 46 (such as store in read only memory (ROM) 45 in communication with a processor 47) mobile telephones, as understood by those skilled in the art, the mobile alert can include a graphics-rich "page" in the product database 14 that describes the featured product(s). Following the transmission of the mobile alert to the selected users, the process depicted in FIG. 2 terminates at block 60.

[0041] FIG. 3 illustrates a high level logical flowchart of an exemplary process by which the mobile device 30 can process e-commerce content received from the m-commerce server 10 in a mobile alert in accordance with the present invention. For purposes of the following description, it will be assumed that the mobile device 30 is a mobile telephone as understood by those skilled in the art. Modifications to the illustrated process required for other mobile devices, such as an email pager, however, will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the following description.

[0042] As illustrated, the process begins at block 70, for example, when a user powers on his or her mobile device 30. For conventional mobile telephones, the transmission of the mobile alert is signaled to the user at power on, for example, by illuminating an LED (Light Emitting Diode) message light or by displaying a text message (e.g., "You have 3 new messages") within display 32. The entire message is pushed to the mobile device when it connects with the network. When a user receives an alert (e.g., via LED, tone, display, or other signal), a new message is ready and already downloaded to the mobile device. Alternatively, in block 72, the mobile device 30 determines whether or not the user has entered a "Read Messages" input to initiate retrieval of the mobile alert from the mobile device's memory. If not, the process passes from block 72 to block 78, which generally represents mobile device 30 performing other processing in accordance with user inputs. In response to a determination at block 72 that the user has entered a "Retrieve Messages" input, the mobile device 30 can download the mobile alert and any other queued message from the wireless communication network utilizing over-the-air or through-the-air communication, as depicted at block 74.

[0043] 411 The mobile device 30 next determines at block 76 whether or not the user has entered a "Present Messages" input to invoke presentation of the mobile alert. If not, the process passes from block 76 to block 78, which again represents the mobile device 30 performing other processing in accordance with user inputs. If, however, the mobile device 30 determines at block 76 that the user has entered a "Present Messages" input, the process passes to block 80.

[0044] Block 80 illustrates the mobile device 30 presenting the mobile alert within the display 32 in accordance with the format of the mobile alert, and optionally, user preferences and/or the capabilities of the mobile device 30. For example, if the mobile alert is transmitted by the m-commerce server 10 as an SMS message, the mobile device 30 presents the mobile alert within the display 32 in textual format. If, however, the mobile device 30 supports graphical displays (e.g., is BREW-enabled), for example, the mobile device 30 can display a graphical mobile alert (e.g., a photograph of the featured product together with descriptive text) within the display 32. The mobile alert can alternatively be displayed as a textual message having an embedded link that, if selected, causes the mobile device 30 to access an additional graphical "page" regarding the featured product(s) from the product database 14.

[0045] In any of these embodiments, the mobile alert preferably includes an indication of a communication that can be initiated by the user utilizing the mobile device 30 in order to purchase the featured product. For example, if the mobile alert is presented in strictly textual format, the textual message can contain a telephone number of call center 24. In an alternative embodiment in which the mobile device 30 supports the display of embedded links within the mobile alert, the mobile alert can contain one or more links that, if selected, cause the mobile device 30 to initiate a voice call to the call center 24 or that cause the mobile device 30 to transmit the telephone number of the mobile device 30 to the call center 24 to request a voice call back. In yet another embodiment, the mobile alert can contain a link that, if selected, initiates communication of a "Make An Immediate Purchase" or other indication message or signal from the mobile device 30 to the m-commerce server 10, indicating the user's desire to buy the featured product.

[0046] The process illustrated in FIG. 3 proceeds from block 80 to block 82, which depicts the mobile device 30 iterating until a user input is detected. In response to receipt of a user input, the mobile device 30 determines at block 84 whether or not the user input signifies a command to initiate communication with the m-commerce server 10 or the call center 24. For example, the user can initiate voice communication with the call center 24 by entering a speed dial code, dialing the telephone number of the call center 24 utilizing the keypad 34, or selecting a link displayed within the display 32 utilizing the arrow buttons 36 and the selection button 38. The user can alternatively enter a command initiating data (not voice) communication of a "Make An Immediate Purchase" or other indication message to the m-commerce server 10, for example, by selecting a link displayed in the mobile alert.

[0047] If the mobile device 30 determines at block 84 that the detected user input does not signify a command to initiate communication with the call center 24 or the m-commerce server 10, the process passes to block 78, which illustrates the mobile device 30 performing other processing in accordance with the detected user input. If, however, the mobile device 30 detects a user input signifying a command to initiate communication with the call center 24 or the m-commerce server 10, the mobile device 30 initiates the indicated communication at block 86 in order to complete a mobile e-commerce transaction purchasing the featured good. If the communication is a voice call, the user can be required to communicate purchase information, such as a credit card number or bank account information, to a live or automated attendant at the call center 24, either vocally or utilizing keypad 34. Alternatively, if data communication is initiated with the m-commerce server 10, the e-commerce transaction can be concluded by the user transmitting purchase information to the m-commerce server 10 via keypad 34 (e.g., by entering a complete credit card number or by entering a keyed command for the mobile device 30 to access and transmit purchase information pre-stored within the mobile device 30). In such case, it is desirable if the mobile device 30 has a secure communication link, as understood by those skilled in the art, with the m-commerce server 10 in order to protect the user's financial information.

[0048] In yet another embodiment in which the purchase information is pre-stored within the user database 16, the communication between the mobile device 30 and the m-commerce server 10 indicates the user's desire to purchase the featured product, but does not contain purchase (i.e., financial) information such as a credit card number. Again, such communication can employ one or more means for protecting users from fraud, such as encryption, password protection, or other techniques (such as personal information (e.g., name, address, and/or telephone numbers) about the registered user) for authenticating the identity of the user and protecting the contents of the data communication. For example, in one embodiment, an application programming interface (API) is used at the mobile device and the mobile e-commerce content is encrypted in Ron's code #4 or Rivest ("RC4") encryption plus elliptical curve as understood by those skilled in the art. Following block 86, the process terminates at block 90.

[0049] Below, a particular embodiment of the present invention is described in order to encourage greater understanding of the invention. It should be understood that the below-disclosed embodiment is merely illustrative of the present invention and should not be taken in a limiting sense.

OVERVIEW OF ONE EMBODIMENT

[0050] Functionality

[0051] SMS Alerts can be sent to self-selected members associated with product or service suppliers based on product categories in which they express interest. Once downloaded to the phone, a BREW application can be launched from the text-based SMS message so that the consumer can view more detailed product information, an image of the product, and quantity remaining information directly from existing database(s) of product or service suppliers.

[0052] Devices

[0053] Mobile alerts for product or service suppliers can be available for all U.S. carriers/devices that support SMS. The system, for example, can selectively attempt to support or actually support the majority of the SMS services. A single template for text messages will be developed and used for all carrier/device/category combinations.

[0054] The BREW application, for example, can be supported by the following Verizon Wireless phones: Motorola 720, Toshiba 9500, and LG 4400. A single BREW application can be presentable across the varying screen sizes of BREW-enabled devices.

[0055] Interfaces

[0056] The web-based Subscriber Interface can enable members or product or service suppliers to enter basic information about their wireless service and to opt-in for mobile alerts.

[0057] The web-based Operator Interface of product or service suppliers can enable supplier personnel to create mobile alert messages.

[0058] Application programming interfaces (APIs) to existing relational database and mass email sender of product or service suppliers can allow the Mobile Alert system to get subscriber email addresses and product information.

[0059] Features

[0060] Consumer Features

[0061] Manage My Mobile Alerts

[0062] After providing usemame and password, members of product or service suppliers can be able to un/subscribe via the product or service supplier website and can select up to seven daily mobile alerts.

[0063] After subscribing for mobile alerts, members can be sent the next regularly scheduled alert(s). Subscription cancellations can be processed as quickly as possible. Members, however, can receive that day's alert, depending on the time of the cancellation relative to the when the mailing list is collected.

[0064] Members that opt-in for text alerts, but whose devices or wireless service does not support SMS cannot typically receive messages and cannot typically be notified that they cannot receive alerts.

[0065] Members who mistype their telephone number may not be notified by product or service suppliers. Alerts that bounce due to incorrect telephone numbers may not be tracked by the system.

[0066] Members with BREW-enabled phones can request SMS messages instead of Product Viewer images.

[0067] Download Product Viewer

[0068] Members of product or service suppliers, for example, can download the BREW-based Daily Deal Viewer over-the-air or through-the-air and via a website. A single BREW application is presentable across the varying screen sizes of BREW devices.

[0069] User database tracks which users have downloaded the Daily Deal Viewer and version downloaded

[0070] Receive Text Alert

[0071] The subscriber can receive a daily text SMS message with that day's promotion based on the category for which the subscriber has signed up. Product name, brief description of the offer, product price, carrier promotion code, product SKU, and 1-800 number can be included in the text message.

[0072] A single template for text messages can be used for all carrier/device/category combinations. In order to support the majority of carriers/devices, SMS message length may be limited to 140 characters, for example.

[0073] Call Overstock.com from Text Alert

[0074] If the subscriber wishes to purchase the item, she can call the 1-800 number included in the SMS message.

[0075] If the device/carrier supports calling within a SMS message, the user may call the number directly from the SMS message.

[0076] If the subscriber's carrier/device does not support calling from within the SMS application, the user may be required to quit the text message application in order to contact the Overstock.com call center associated with the product or service supplier.

[0077] Forward Text Alert

[0078] Subscribers shall be able to forward a mobile alert. Depending on the carrier/device combination subscribers can be able to forward to a telephone number, an email address, both, or neither.

[0079] Launch Product Viewer from Text Alert

[0080] The SMS message can give the subscriber the option to view a BREW application launched from within the SMS message that can display a supplier logo, more detailed product information, an image of the product or service, carrier promotion code and list the quantify of products available, e.g. "ONLY 100 AVAILABLE!" on the promotion of that day. The quantity of product available can be a static number and not a real-time inventory check.

[0081] The BREW Daily Deal viewer can be launched from an SMS mobile alert (BREW wake-up based on subscriber selecting a URL) or automatically launched if the mobile telephone is BREW-enabled based on subscriber preference?

[0082] Call Overstock.com from Product Viewer

[0083] The user can purchase the item by calling the supplier's 1-800 number from within the BREW Daily Deal Viewer application.

[0084] Daily Deal M-Commerce

[0085] One-click ordering is also enabled on the website, e.g. credit card number and expiration date saved on the product or service supplier servers.

[0086] BREW Daily Deal Viewer application includes encryption.

[0087] An example of wireframes representing the user's viewing experience when using a BREW-enabled mobile device are depicted in FIG. 4. In this embodiment, the user can launch the Daily Deal Viewer in the absence of a Mobile Alert and view Daily Deals directly from the m-commerce server. Alternatively, the user can launch the Daily Deal viewer from an SMS message. In this embodiment, the user can also initiate a call to the call center 24 or a call back from the call center 24, if supported by the mobile telephone 30. If automatically initiating a call via the makeVoiceCall Internet Telephony API (ITAPI) is not supported by the mobile telephone, the user terminates the Daily Deal Viewer to initiate a regular voice call to the call center.

[0088] Operator Features

[0089] Create Text Alerts

[0090] Operator enters Daily Deal information for each product category. A single template for text messages is used for all carrier/device/category combinations.

[0091] Save Alert

[0092] Once the Operator has created a text alert, the data can be saved as a draft. For example, only one draft can be saved for each category.

[0093] Preview Text Alerts

[0094] The Operator is required to preview the text message before publishing it for distribution. The Operator can preview each text alert on a web page. The Operator shall be able to preview both newly created alerts and saved alerts.

[0095] Edit Text Alerts

[0096] Operators shall be able to view saved alerts and edit them prior to the preview/publish process.

[0097] Publish Text Alerts

[0098] By clicking a "Publish" button for each text alert, the Operator indicates that content has been finalized and is ready for distribution to subscribers.

[0099] The system automatically suppresses old alerts from the Operator user interface, so only a single alert can be saved for each category at one time.

[0100] Operators, for example, may not be able to set publish dates.

[0101] The system will not notify the Operator if they forget to publish saved alerts or if they forget to publish all categories.

[0102] Product Viewer Presentation

[0103] Permits operator to preview each Product View for the Daily Deals

[0104] Manually Launch BREW App

[0105] If available on the device, the member shall be able to manually start-up the Daily Deal Viewer and view today's Daily Deals.

[0106] System and Administrative Features

[0107] Send Text Alerts

[0108] The system shall send all text alerts as emails. The system shall query the relational database to get a list of subscriber email addresses by product category. Text alerts will be automatically sent by the system at TBC each day. The suppliers IT, for example, can change the scheduled send time by updating a system configuration file. Upon completion of the daily send, the system can report the total number of text messages sent for that day.

[0109] Pull Product Viewer Data

[0110] Pull existing product details from relational database.

[0111] Rightsize Product Images

[0112] Sizes product images to correct size for proper display

[0113] The SMS messages and/or Product Views can be personalized for each user, if desired.

[0114] As shown in FIG. 5, one embodiment of a method of facilitating wireless mobile e-commerce constructed in accordance with the present invention starts as indicated at step 501, and permits users to designate user preferences in a data storage (e.g., having one or more databases 14) associated with a server 10 having a program product, as depicted at step 503. The user preferences can include contact information for mobile devices 30 and designations of products about which the users are interested in receiving mobile e-commerce content via the mobile devices 30. As illustrated at step 505, a product is selected and featured in a mobile e-commerce content responsive to the user preferences. A mobile e-commerce content is formed (step 507) and includes a mobile alert that gives users an option to view a graphics-enabled application 41 launched from within the mobile alert such that an application programming interface (API) 43 at the mobile devices 30 interfaces with the data storage 12 and the program product, e.g., stored in the memory 13, on the server 10 regarding product suppliers to permit access to the mobile devices 30 and product information. In one embodiment, the server is an m-commerce server 10 for serving the mobile e-commerce content, and step 507 includes forming the mobile e-commerce content as an SMS message to be sent back to a BREW-enabled mobile device 30. Upon receiving this message, the mobile device 30 prompts the user to view the message. If the user chooses to do this, then a BREW application is opened and the user can view more detailed (e.g., graphical) information about the product mentioned in the initial SMS message. Alternatively, the SMS message gives users the option to view a BREW application launched from within the SMS message such that the API at each of the mobile devices 30 interfaces with the data storage and a mass e-mail sender of product suppliers to permit access to the mobile device 30 and product information.

[0115] As depicted at step 509 one or more users are selected who designating the product by reference to the user preferences in the data storage 14. The mobile e-commerce content is transmitted from the server 10 to the mobile device 30 of the user, as illustrated at step 511. The method further can include soliciting the user (step 513) with the mobile e-commerce content on the mobile device 30 regarding the product, indicating on the mobile device 30 that a communication is needed (step 515) from the user to consummate a mobile e-commerce transaction involving the product, and permitting the user to initiate the communication solicited by the mobile e-commerce content (step 517) if the user desires to purchase the product and complete the mobile e-commerce transaction, before ending at step 519.

[0116] At step 511, the method also can include making the mobile e-commerce content a type of communication such as an SMS message or e-mail for display to the user on the mobile device 30, a webpage for display to the user on the mobile device 30, or a telephone call to the mobile device 30, and, at step 517, can include receiving a contact from the user selected from the group consisting of an e-mail, a telephone call, and a response wherein the user selects a website link in the mobile e-commerce content. Step 511 also can include transmitting to a mobile device 30 selected from the group consisting of a mobile telephone, an e-mail communication device, and a personal digital assistant. Alternatively, the method can include one of: transmitting in response to an explicit user request for communication of the mobile e-commerce content, and transmitting to the mobile device 30 and soliciting the user in an absence of a specific request for the mobile e-commerce content from the user, and prompting the user to browse selected categories of products.

[0117] The method still further can include transmitting a plurality of solicitations to the user for different products and, at step 513, presenting on the mobile device 30 information regarding the product, and prompting the user via the mobile device 30 to make a purchase of the product in response to the mobile e-commerce content. At step 515, the method can include presenting the mobile e-commerce content received at the mobile device 30 to the user of the mobile device 30 in textual or graphical format, and presenting a description, a price, and an image of the product. In addition, at step 517, the method can include prompting the user to actuate a purchasing key on the mobile device 30 to indicate that the user wishes to purchase the product.

[0118] The method yet further can include utilizing the server 10 to provide a user interface through which the user can utilize the mobile device 30 to establish a user account having a user login ID and associated password, a shipping address, and payment information, and storing commerce history of the user indicating what products have been solicited to and purchased by the user via the mobile device 30. Moreover, the method can further include permitting the user to forward the mobile e-commerce content from the mobile device 30 to another device that can receive and display the mobile e-commerce content.

[0119] FIG. 6 illustrates another embodiment of a method of facilitating wireless mobile e-commerce. The method, for example, starts as indicated at step 601, and includes registering a user (step 603) at a mobile server 10 via a mobile device 30 to provide a registered user interface through which the user establishes a registered user account having a user login ID and associated password, a shipping address, payment information. As illustrated at step 605, a mobile server 10 is used to establish an encrypted, direct link with the registered user starting an application on the mobile device 30 and automatically sizing a mobile e-commerce content for display on the mobile device 30. The method also includes communicating with the mobile device 30 via the mobile server (step 607), with the mobile server 10 having access to a product website server for accessing product information therefrom regarding a product selection website. As depicted at step 609, product information is downloaded from the mobile server 10 to the mobile device 30, and (step 611) the registered user is permitted to browse the downloaded product information on the mobile device 30. As illustrated at step 613, the method also includes receiving an initiative from the mobile device 30 to purchase a product at the mobile server 10 based on the downloaded product information; permitting the registered user to enter the product selection website via the mobile device 30 to consummate a purchase transaction (step 615), and sending verification of registered use to the mobile device 30 and of the purchase transaction such that an entirety of the purchase transaction is conducted at the mobile device 30 (step 617), before ending at step 619.

[0120] The method can still further include the steps of tracking a shipment of the product with the mobile server 10, and sending information regarding the purchase transaction to the product website server 21. Step 605 may include utilizing an application programming interface at the mobile device 30 and encrypting the mobile e-commerce content, while step 609 can include browsing images, data, and pricing for products. Step 605 also can include transmitting to a mobile device 30 selected from the group consisting of an e-mail communication device, a personal digital assistant, and a mobile telephone, and making the mobile e-commerce content a type of communication selected from the group consisting of an e-mail for display on the mobile device 30, a webpage for display on the mobile device 30, and a telephone call to the mobile device 30. Step 613 also can include receiving a contact from the registered user selected from the group consisting of an e-mail, a response wherein the registered user selects a website link in the mobile e-commerce content, and a telephone call. Alternatively, step 605 can include one of transmitting the mobile e-commerce content to the mobile device 30 in response to an explicit request from the registered user for communication of the mobile e-commerce content, transmitting the mobile e-commerce content to the mobile device 30 and soliciting the registered user in absence of a specific request for the mobile e-commerce content from the registered user.

[0121] The method yet also can include the step of selecting the product to be featured in the mobile e-commerce content, and permitting the registered user to designate user preferences that include contact information for at least one registered mobile device 30, and to designate at least one group of products about which the registered user is interested in receiving mobile alerts via the at least one registered mobile device 30. In addition, the mobile e-commerce content can include an SMS message that gives the registered user an option to view a BREW application launched from within the SMS message, and an application programming interface at the mobile device 30 interfaces with a data storage 14 associated with the mobile server 10 and a mass e-mail sender of product suppliers to permit access to an e-mail address of the registered user and product information.

[0122] It will be appreciated that the foregoing m-commerce paradigm as illustrated in FIGS. 1-7, and as described herein, presents revenue opportunities for the carrier of the wireless communication in that the retailer can offer a percentage of sales or fixed fee based on a purchase to the wireless communication in exchange for directing traffic to the retailer. The wireless carrier can further incentivize its customers to subscribe to the Mobile Alert service by offering discounted communication services for subscribers to the Mobile Alert service. In another embodiment, for example, a finder's fee can be allocated from the retailer to the carrier for facilitating commercial traffic to the retailer. Such fees can be incremental based on the level of interest of the consumers (e.g., mere inquiries via "clicking," pass-through to purchase).

[0123] Although the invention has been particularly shown as described with reference to described embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and detail can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, it will be appreciated that the concepts disclosed herein can be extended or modified to apply to other types of configuration constructs having different rules than the particular exemplary embodiments disclosed herein. In addition, the present invention is not limited to current networks and carriers. As new wireless technologies are developed, the present invention may be applied to those technologies with substantially no or minimal alteration.

[0124] In addition, although aspects of the present invention have been described with respect to a computer system or server executing software that directs the functions of the present invention, it should be understood by those skilled in the art that present invention can alternatively be implemented as a program product for use with a data processing system. Programs defining the functions of the present invention, for example, can be delivered to a data processing system via a variety of signal-bearing media, which include, without limitation, non-rewritable storage media (e.g., CD-ROM), rewritable storage media (e.g., a floppy diskette or hard disk drive), and communication media, such as digital and analog networks. It should be understood, therefore, that such signal-bearing media, when carrying or encoding computer readable instructions that direct the functions of the present invention, represent alternative embodiments of the present invention.

[0125] In the drawings and specification, there have been disclosed typical embodiments of the invention and, although specific terms are employed, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for the purpose of limitation, the scope of the invention being set forth in the following claims.

* * * * *