In Store M-Commerce
By Eric Lin, Wed Oct 01 22:30:00 GMT 2003

Mobile internet connections make smarter shoppers. Do you want to know how if the salesman is telling the truth about what that car is worth? Edmunds.com has a nice mobile site with facts and figures. If you want to know whether you can get a better price on the DVD player, you can check froogle, or even eBay right there in the store. Today NeoMedia made an announcement that could take in-store comparison shopping to the next level.


According to their press release, NeoMedia have combined one winning technology: Amazon's Associate program (which lets business access the Amazon catalog database), and one failed technology: the CueCat (where bar codes in advertisements would lead people to websites) into one interesting m-commerce application.

The shopper works by using your cameraphone to take a picture of a book's ISBN number (by using the bar code). Then using a proprietary application, the picture is sent to NeoMedia, who will use the bar code to determine the ISBN number and send you Amazon's price for that book. No mention is made of whether you will be able to purchase the book from your handset. The application, which runs on Series 60 phones, will launch on the 3650 first and follow on other models. There is no release date yet for the 3650 version, let alone any additional ones.

This system is vaguely similar to C-Mode, which we read about recently on Mobile Burn. In Japan, you can purchase a Coke by sending a text message to a number, which will deduct the cost from your mobile account and return an MMS with a 3D bar code. Hold that bar code up to a scanner on the Coke machine and out comes your cold soda.

With the inclusion of high resolution screens and cameras on new mobile phones, technologies like NeoMedia's Paperclick (the barcode to internet technology that powered the CueCat) could finally come of age. Especially since taking a picture of a bar code is much easier than entering a URL or even a product name using T9. If this new software does make it to market, it may be a useful m-commerce application, however we cannot condone the use of bar codes in advertisements… ever again.