This holiday season may be offering a glimpse of things to come in 2011 and beyond, as the number of consumers who have used their mobile devices to make purchases has exploded.

As TechCrunch reported yesterday, mobile payments made between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15 increased 300% from this time last year, according to PayPal. The total mobile transactions for the period came to $13 million, according to All Things Digital.

These trends, while interesting, are not terribly shocking, considering the explosive proliferation of smart phones and the rise of mobile payment technologies and apps designed to facilitate mobile shopping.

Naturally, PayPal is a major player in this space, having launched its first mobile payments solution four years ago. Back then, the iPhone was still under development and mobile payments were often made via SMS.

These days, there's no shortage of smart phone apps that enable mobile shopping. In Apple's iOS App Store alone, the top ten free Lifestyle apps is consistently home to the likes of Amazon, eBay and the Apple Store app. Further down the list, Amazon's newer Price Check app is gaining popularity. Like the original Amazon Mobile app, Price Check lets you scan the bar code on any physical product and compare prices on Amazon. Red Laser does the same thing but searches beyond Amazon. Even consumers who physically walk into stores and malls, in many cases, ultimately check out on their phones when the price is right.

With tools like these at their fingertips, it's no wonder more and more consumers are purchasing things from their phone. As smart phone adoption continues to grow and those phones begin to include technologies like near-field communication (NFC), we can safely expect to see these trends continue well into the new year.