Is the threat from mobile price comparison apps over-hyped?

I’ve picked up on a few articles recently in the likes of WSJ and TechCrunch in particular, suggesting that the rise of mobile price comparison apps has finally come of age:

“How brick and mortar stores are going to be able to personalize and make the in-store shopping experience unique is through data, in my opinion. It’s no longer about creating a mobile web site or offering coupons; the experience centralizes around making customers feel as if they are being treated like a VIP just by walking into a store. And how brick and mortar stores are going to do that is the same way Amazon was able to create a business out of personalized e-commerce.

“Some retailers are attempting to use video and heatmaps to try to see how people shop, what they are buying and more. But this data is limiting because while stores can figure out what is working when it comes to placement, advertising, and marketing of products in-store, retailers still don’t know who is buying and how to get them to return.

“Personalization really gets interesting with transaction data. Shopkick recently teamed up with Visa to allow consumers a way to receive rewards points for retailers at the point of sale when they use their Visa credit cards. This is part of closing the redemption loop...Thus far start-ups, tech companies and credit card companies have started to use transaction data as a way to close the redemption loop and drive future purchases but this is relatively new to brick and mortar retailers.”

And of course Bay’s PayPal are getting in on the act by teaming up with high street retailers “to create a suite of tools and technologies that help use technologies to level the playing field when it comes to data” according to PayPal’s Anuj Nayar.

So much for the TechCrunch view of the subject. To add value to their answer I asked the question ‘Is the threat from mobile price comparison apps over-hyped?’ on the G+ community. Here are a few edited responses to date that have come in which underline that this trend is certainly something to watch out for in 2012, hyped or not:

  • “In my opinion there is more a trend than a threat, the search for better pricing and offers for all kind of items either by the web or any other means.” Daniel Suzuki, Consultor, Bufete Tecnologico Latinoamericano, S. C.
  • “Retailers also need to understand what other value streams the act of ‘scanning’ has within a retail environment. If 500 products are all tagged appropriately, retailers can gain insight to what was scanned, when, and where (sometimes even by who.)” Barry Hurd, Managing Director, 123 Social Media
  • “For all high ticket items, anything over $100, consumers already do price comparisons on the internet before they even go to a retail store. So, if they are in the store, looking at a product they have a high interest factor and their mobile app will only make them a more educated consumer.  They can then use this knowledge to ensure they are getting a good/fair deal from the Main Street retailer.  It is up to the retailer to ensure that they don’t lose a willing and able consumer.” David Lieber, Staff Product Manager, Qualcomm
  • “..the better question is how does the high street respond to a marketplace with reduced overheads, reduced staffing costs and easy access for a significant proportion of the populace FRONTED by comparison sites that direct the consumer to the best place to get the cheapest deal.” Michael Strefford, Director, JoinedUp Consultancy
  • “Mobile based purchasing more than doubled this holiday and was over 10% of the online purchase on several days, so the question of impact is not over hyped as this is now ongoing..this is part of the broader effect of easy access to price and product information. We have now seen the effect in the strong pricing stance of retailers such as Walmart and Best Buy who both went out of their way to ensure that their offline pricing was “in the top box” when compared online, or else fled to exclusive and therefore non-comparable sale items.” Robert Heiblim, Co-Founder & Principal,  BlueSalve Professional Consulting

A new OS for your Android mobile?

Just been sent a link to this interesting open source news – that I have an option to replace my current Android OS on my T-Mobile G1 with a firmware alternative called CyanogenMod. That doesn’t happen every morning! Note that the controversy about including Google apps, which appears to have been resolved..

CyanogenMod is an aftermarket firmware for four families of cell phones—HTC Dream (marketed as T-Mobile G1 in Europe and the US, and Era G1 in Poland) and HTC Magic (T-Mobile myTouch 3G in the US, DoCoMo HT-03A in Japan and Vodafone Magic in the UK, Germany among some other states.), the Motorola Droid[2], and the Google Nexus One.[3]

CyanogenMod is a community-based distribution of the open-source Android operating system. It offers features not found in the official Android-based firmwares of vendors of these cell phones, including support for FLAC Lossless Audio, multi-touch, the ability to store and run downloaded applications from the microSD card, compressed cache (compcache), a large APN list, a reboot menu, support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and USB tethering, as well as other enhancements. CyanogenMod was also the first mobile OS to incorporate BFS as the task scheduler, a change that has been merged into experimental branches in the official Android source tree.[4] CyanogenMod claims to increase performance and reliability over official firmware releases.