You can’t judge a book by its cover, but now you can use that cover to help you find out a bit more about a particular title. This week, bookseller Barnes & Noble launched an iPhone and iPod Touch application that allows consumers to search for a book, CD or DVD title by just taking a picture of the cover. This new free app, which is downloadable from the Apple App Store is designed to let mobile users take advantage of the mobile camera to find product information.
Of course the irony here is that users need to take a picture of the cover, so snapping a book cover might actually require you to be in a book store. Then again, if a friend colleague is reading said book, and you are interested you can snap the cover, and then get the information about it. This would include pricing from B&N, editorial reviews and even customer ratings. Furthermore, the B&N Bookstore App lets you purchase the book for home delivery, or reserve for in-store pickup from the closest brick and mortar shop. What the app will not let you do is price compare, but after all this is B&N’s own app.
B&N isn’t the only bookseller to offer an app, and actually this new launch from the self-proclaimed “world’s largest bookstore” heats up the competition with Amazon.com, which also has an iPhone app. There is also SnapTell’s iPhone app that gives users the ability to snap a book cover to find product information. Mobile camera phones and books, who would have thought it?
Best Buy Launches Mobile App
If you’re shopping for more than books or CDs, this week Best Buy Co. launched the Best Buy Weekly Deals mobile app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. This free app allows users to see weekly deals and get mobile-only specials. Plus if you’re on the road and absolutely need to get to a store, the app can direct you to the nearest one.
Ironically, the Best Buy Weekly Deals lacks the same functionality as the m-commerce site (m.BestBuy.com), and that is that you can’t actually order products. If you’re looking to buy something you’ll have use your mobile phone to call Best Buy to place an order. But being able to find deals while going mobile is still a step forward.
Will Mobile App Stores Close Shop?
This year I’ve been reporting on how everyone that has anything to do with mobile is launching an apps store. The success of Apple’s store for mobile apps has encouraged many others to jump on the bandwagon. But within five years Sun’s Java Store, Google’s Android Market and the others could be hanging out virtual “going out of business” signs.
At least that is what ABI Research predicts could be one possible future. The market research firm has just released a new study called “Mobile Cloud Computing,” and believes that app stores could be replaced by cloud computing. That is where users would essentially access hosted services over the Internet, instead of downloading apps directly to their devices. (The name refers to the fact that in flow charts and diagrams the Internet is often represented as a cloud symbol).