AppleInsider has uncovered an Apple patent application filed with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in June of 2009, that shows Apple’s interest in a social network for the brink-and-mortar shopping experience. In fact, this is one of two patents. The first entitled “Social Networking in Shopping Environments” outlines ways in which shoppers can use this […]
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Apple Looking Into a Ping-Like Social Network for Retail Outlets

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AppleInsider has uncovered an Apple patent application filed with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in June of 2009, that shows Apple’s interest in a social network for the brink-and-mortar shopping experience.

In fact, this is one of two patents. The first entitled “Social Networking in Shopping Environments” outlines ways in which shoppers can use this hypothetical social network to select products in brick-and-mortar stores and get advice from friends on said item. Store employees could do the same, and point out other products being offered in the store.

The system itself could simply allow for users to receive simple “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” from their “friends” on their product enquiries. Companies could also use this system to gain feedback from their customers. Kinda like a digital comment card.

Another separate patent application entitled “Systems, Methods, and Computer-Readable Media for Community Review of Items in an Electronic Store“, also from June of 2009, shows that Apple is looking into a similar idea, but instead for digital shopping as well. Specifically, this application points out ways that customers could be surveyed to predict performance of products and more emphasis being put on customer reviews that more accurately predict product performance after some time has elapsed.

If anyone could pull this off, perhaps it could be Apple. I suspect that if it does come to fruition, Apple will use this for their retail and online stores first, and if it works they’ll open it up to other retailers. Much like they did with their point-of-sale iPod touch contraptions.

My question is this- How is this any more useful than, say, Twitter or Facebook? I could just as easily scramble to ask my Facebook “friends” what I should get my mother for her birthday just as easily as I could use this. Again, perhaps Apple could pull this off and make it something enjoyable, and helpful to use. It’s an interesting concept at least.

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