Apple bought a company in March 2013. No surprise. For an estimated $20 million, Apple bought WiFiSLAM, a 2-year-old company that according to AngelList developed a technology that,
“allow(s) your smartphone to pinpoint its location (and the location of your friends) in real-time to 2.5m accuracy using only ambient WiFi signals that are already present in buildings. We are building the next generation of location-based mobile apps that, for the first time, engage with users at the scale that personal interaction actually takes place. Applications range from step-by-step indoor navigation, to product-level retail customer engagement, to proximity-based social networking.“
Getting past the technical language, it is basically GPS for indoors. But this is powerful for e-commerce companies like Amazon.
Apps already exist that will allow a consumer to scan the bar code, take a picture or use text/speech to check the price of the item on amazon.com (or other stores). The information these e-commerce companies can collect about the user and their interests is amazing. Add to that being able to discover where the consumer is, what store they are in, what building that store exists in… the possibilities could be endless. Heck, even big brother could track you.
But what this may be doing to retail businesses is turning them into not much more than a showroom. Note this quote from Harvard Business Review blogger Mitch Joel:
This business of showrooming has become a contentious talking point in the retail sector, as more and more consumers are using their smartphones and tablets to find a better price at the physical location. These consumers are using the stores as a showroom, but completing their purchases on their mobile devices and having the products shipped to their homes.
I know I do this in bookstores. Why? Amazon is usually always cheaper. Of …read more
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