Now that we’ve got such advanced cell phone technology, Russel Shaw with ZDNet thinks we should start putting it to use to make shopping in the real world easier. His idea, free for the taking if you’re feeling entrepreneurial: shopping mall geolocation services.
It would be maps of shopping malls in your metro area, downloadable to your cell. But that’s just the start of it. I would then envision participating shopping centers being outfitted with technology that could hone in on your cell signal when you activate this application on your cell. If you are looking for a specific store in the mall, you would then enter a voice command: such as “Wet Seal.”
Your request would go to a database located on a server in the mall. The server would then retrieve Wet Seal’s location in the mall from the database, and then compare that location with where you are at present. Optimally, this information could be derived from triangulating the source of your cell signal. More practically, your location could be obtained by you reciting the name of the nearest store to your current position.
Using your current location as Point A, and your desired destination within the mall as Point B, you would then receive a set of directions on your phone. You then should be able to play them back as talking directions. Just like your larger-world, outside-the-mall GPS or navigation system may be able to do right now.
A reader points out that the service could be co-opted for similar consumer benefits “such as finding your car in a parking gargage or your seat in a theatre.”
Shaw thinks one way the service could pay for itself is as “a value-add for carriers, who might charge shopping malls a modest participation fee for being in the database”—but we think that’s a very 1990s business model, and we’d prefer carriers be cut out of it completely since they don’t play well with others. Much better is his idea that “individual retailers who would like to be in their mall’s geolocator database could pay for ads” that would appear within the application. (Yes, we know, more ads. Someday you’ll be able to pay for surgery with ads, and for the rest of your life your femur will broadcast little text messages to any RFID-equipped device that passes within 15 inches.) Even better than that, we think, is a model that doesn’t tap the consumer for payment, whether in cash or ad views—if the service was helpful enough to increase shopping activity for a retailer, it should pay for itself.