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Apple investigating Ping-like social networking for retail shops

post #1 of 14
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Apple has shown interest in creating a social networking tool for brick-and-mortar shopping, allowing iPhone owners to share comments, opinions and recommendations about any type of product.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week published a new patent application entitled "Social Networking in Shopping Environments." Discovered by AppleInsider, the proposed invention describes using a portable electronic device, like an iPhone, to allow customers to network with one another while shopping.

In a store, a kiosk would allow customers to access a product list and information on their phone. That product and the details about it could then be shared through Apple's social networking tool.

In one example, a user can identify items of interest and share information directly to mobile devices of their friends. From there, friends can review the products and provide their own comments and feedback.

The system could be as simple as providing friends the ability to give a "yes" or "no" answer, or a virtual "thumbs up" or "thumbs down." In one example, a shopper asks their friends, "Should I buy this?" In another, a husband asks "Help, I need birthday gift ideas for my wife. Will she like this?"

Customers could also ask open-ended questions of their friends, such as where to find a product for less money, or what they might recommend in a certain category. Businesses could also use the service as a quick way to gain feedback from customers, ranking products and service based on a traditional rating of one to five stars.



The patent application notes that customers like to have friends come with them when they shop for items such as clothes in a brick-and-mortar store, like a mall. Others like to talk to salespeople, who may recommend a product for them based on their expertise.

"These approaches, however, require the user to have their friends with them during the shopping trip, or require the users to catch the attention of a salesperson and ensure the salesperson remains available during the shopping trip," the application reads.

It also notes that customers may want to meet up with friends during a shopping trip, but relying on phone calls and text messages can require "complex coordination," such as several phone calls to multiple people in order to settle on a time and place to meet.



Apple's solution would allow a community discussion, all right within one application. This would allow shoppers to communicate and share easily, in one place, with a shared discussion that would not require them to be physically present with one another.

Made public by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week, the application is credited to Stanley Ng., Christine Cho and Monica Tran. It was first filed by Apple on Jan. 26, 2009.

If it becomes a reality, it would be the second social networking product from Apple designed to stimulate sales. The first, iTunes Ping, launched in September, and is designed to allow users to share details of what songs they purchase and concerts they attend. It allows users to easily purchase recommended songs through the iTunes Music Store.

Ping also allows users to follow their favorite artists, who also can post updates and share songs they like on the social networking service. In November, Ping became integrated with Twitter, allowing users of that service to share their Ping activity with others.
post #2 of 14
Facebook, as much of a pile of intrusive garbage as it is, has won this war. Not sure why Apple is trying to compete.
post #3 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleZilla View Post

Facebook, as much of a pile of intrusive garbage as it is, has won this war. Not sure why Apple is trying to compete.

Maybe you should read the article. This is about retail.
post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Proximityeffect View Post

Maybe you should read the article. This is about retail.

The user comment section of the store should just be updated - needs to be more Amazonish/Ebayish.
Apple has an epic fail in Ping - don't add insult to injury.
post #5 of 14
Apple needs Facebook for Ping to really take off.. Like it or not..
post #6 of 14
Only apple would try and 'patent' a social network. What a load of shit. Are they trying to kill every industry they get in to?

Facebook would crush this overnight by just releasing 'facebook shopping'
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjw View Post

Only apple would try and 'patent' a social network. What a load of shit. Are they trying to kill every industry they get in to?

Facebook would crush this overnight by just releasing 'facebook shopping'

Everyone will try and patent anything. It's been done and it's being done.
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleZilla View Post

Facebook, as much of a pile of intrusive garbage as it is, has won this war. Not sure why Apple is trying to compete.

Agreed. Ping was D.O.A.
post #9 of 14
Surely Pownum does this already - an app they accepted in the iTunes store months ago? Hard to see how they can patent it given they had explicit knowledge of prior it.

Not that Pownum should be worried. Apple doesn't understand social. They do lots of things very well - but Ping is up there with the cube, the iPod hifi and the hockey puck mouse that came with the first iMac - designer vanity not user value. Ping has already failed - the first update came with the most requested feature i.e. the ability to switch it off.
post #10 of 14
The TQ (troll quotient) is running pretty high in this thread -- 4 out of 9 posts so far. Reminds me of the proverbial attractant for flies.

It would be well to remember that this is a two-year-old application, and so reflects thinking of, say, three years ago. The whole idea of augmented social reality, if we could call it that, would have been pretty new at the time. It will depend on linked real-time video, which is still developing, so all this stuff is still pretty nebulous.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by iLiver View Post

Apple has an epic fail in Ping - don't add insult to injury.

Ping is what 3 months old, maybe 4. That is barely time it call it anything.

As for these patent ideas I think it is great. They could set up a network like Game Center, even connecting it to their iTunes system and allow apps for all kinds of things. Shopping for clothes, books, cars etc. Restaurant reviews, even service reviews like spas, dentists or landlords. By linking systems you can find folks you trust. I like your taste in movies and music from iTunes, I might like your taste in books so when I see your name on a review I will definitely give it a read, etc

For brick and mortar stores like clothes, they could perhaps even expand their queue system from their own stores so I could be standing in Macy's in whatever section or even a dressing room and page someone to com to me instead of having to hunt around
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by iLiver View Post

The user comment section of the store should just be updated - needs to be more Amazonish/Ebayish.
Apple has an epic fail in Ping - don't add insult to injury.

Agreed. Ping is really bad.
post #13 of 14
Not sure if Yelp already does retail. Absolutely can't stand the rants of amateurs whining about their restaurant experiences. And I hear Yelp leans on businesses to pay them to get favorable ratings...

Sent from my iPhone Simulator

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Sent from my iPhone Simulator

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post #14 of 14
makes sense!
Same Apple. Same Mac. Different Take. Different Place. http://Applemacness.com
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Same Apple. Same Mac. Different Take. Different Place. http://Applemacness.com
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