Cameraphone Comparison Shopping
By Eric Lin, Wed Jan 21 00:15:00 GMT 2004
Back in October, we reported on early efforts from NeoMedia to adapt their failed CueCat technology to comparison shopping via cameraphone. Since then more companies have joined the fray, announcing mobile shopping software that takes advantage of cameraphones' advanced features.
What American company ScanBuy has to offer isn't so much comparison shopping as customer stealing. They've heeded research that a number of savvy shoppers actually shop in stores then compare prices and buy online. ScanBuy proposes to send users coupons for an item at an online stores when users send them a picture message of a UPC code or ISBN number. Thus making every effort (except for instant gratification) to bring the customer to another vendor's door.
ScanBuy have already inked a deal to include their shopping software on some upcoming Sony Ericsson handsets. Meanwhile NeoMedia are supposedly testing their software on Nokia 3650 and 3660 models according to Wired, however there have been no updates to their site since October, nor are there links to sign up for the program. Wired also points out that two Japanese companies are hot on the heels of the American ventures with shopping software of their own. Both MKen and MediaStick have Japanese language only websites.
It's anyone's guess what these products will actually be capable of when they're finally released. However I have to point out that coupon codes never seem to work as a long-term business strategy. Companies have tried them with every new technology, and they never last very long. However comparison shopping on the go seems like an excellent solution for new shopping habits. If you make getting information about the product and competing prices easy, you can cash in on customers while the product is still fresh in their mind. It capitalizes on behavior as well as technology- which as we've seen, is the winning combination.