Saturday, February 17, 2007

Shopping by cellphone has a few kinks

Found this interesting review of cell phone shopping services by ANDREW D. SMITH
on Read the original post here. Services compared include Frucall, Scanbuy Shopper, Mobsaver, Froogle and Pronto. I cannot agree more with Andrew on the status of mobile shopping sites. Here is an excerpt from his post:
" Barcode-based services such as Frucall Inc. always return the right product – except when they don't return anything, which is often. Enter the barcode from a wine bottle or a cocktail dress, and they'll probably fail."
Barcode based search can be extremely affective for certain types of products like Books, Media (CD's, DVD's etc) and also consumer electronics like cameras, printers etc... but it ends there. Most of the mobile services are mashups and rely on existing shopping engines like Amazon for their data. The type of products mentioned above are tagged in these engines using the UPC values or ISBN numbers and that makes it easy to locate them and provide exact information to the user. There aren't a lot of API's out there that provide access to info on Cocktail dresses... specially since the UPC values for clothes are recycled ever so often. This is where services like could come into the picture. Like a dress at Macy's, snap a pic from your phone and the phone will show u similar dresses in the Marshalls across the street. Another issue plaguing the barcode is the absence of boxes on the store shelves, all u see is the Code 128 barcode on the label identifying the SKU not the UPC of the product. The UPC is almost always missing.

So... will mobile shopping eventually make it big... it will.. but there is still a long way to go. The final result would be a combination of barocde, text (keywords) and picture search that would not only provide the user price comparison but complete piece of mind in terms of reviews, specs etc. Another advantage that the mobile shopping service will leverage is location based shopping...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Has Open-Source Lost its Halo?

Found this interesting article on PC World about where the open source movement is heading or seems to be heading. Kinda makes you think ... doesnt it???

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

ECMAScript Mobile Profile: Client Side Scripting for WAP pages

ECMAScript is a scripting programming language, standardized by Ecma International in the ECMA-262 specification. The language is widely used on the web, and is often referred to as JavaScript or JScript, after the two primary implementations of the specification. (More info on Wikipedia)

I had read about the support by WAP browsers for ECMA script Mobile Profile or ECMA MP (ESMP) about a year back but there werent many phones out there that had these browsers. The number of models with browser support for ECMA script has shot up quiet significantly since then. This makes it more interesting. I would love to be able to prompt the user about a wrong entry in a form without making a expensive (in terms of time) connection back to the server.

I searched around for documentation and samples on ESMP but couldnt find a lot of information. The best place to start would be the Sprint Developer Site, they do have a bunch of examples and tutorials to get you started. Sprint also has quiet a few handsets out that support ESMP. Search for ECMA in the documents section on the developer site. Nokia too has a document explaining the ESMP script but I did not find it useful. OMA website has a PDF that explains the whole shabang: OMA-WAP-ESMP-V1_0-20040709-C.pdf.

Detecting phones with ECMA Script Support.
I guess the easiest way is to check the HTTP Accept header of the request for 'text/ecmascript' mime type.
boolean bECMASupported = false;
accept = request.getHeader("accept");

if (accept != null && !accept.equals("") && !accept.equals("*/*")){
index = accept.indexOf("text/ecmascript");

if(-1 != index){
bECMASupported = true;

I tried out client side validation with a simple length check on a form field. I am including the XHTML code below:

Screenshots of how the page looks and behaves on a Samsung A900 included here.

This stuff is really cool. ESMP might not make a big dent as Javascript is already supported on a bunch of smartphones and also the new Nokia Web browser for 3rd edition handsets but on "vanilla" handsets, it could provide an edge to the WAP applications.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Scan Commerce: K- Merce

Check out the adverts on You tube about barcode scanning technology in use in Korea. The barcodes being used by KTF in Korea are the intercodes provided by Iconlab.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Scanbuy and Nokia

SCANBUY Signs Global Partnership Agreement with Nokia to Provide Mobile Marketing Software on Handsets.

"The Scanbuy technology will allow users of the Nokia S60 and S40 handsets to recognize and decode barcodes on products, media and advertising and to link directly to content and services from their handsets."

We are so getting close to the "My Barcode Scanner" application on mobile phones every where and not only in Japan.

CNET Mobile: Reviews and Prices from your cell phone

Played around with the CNET Wap site: Pretty cool, you now have the powerful reviews on techie products right in the palm of ur hand. The WAP site is simple and relatively well made. It allows you to access information available on the CNET website through a simple naviagation scheme.

The compare prices section also allows you to enter your zip code and then displays the pricing along with the taxes and shipping.

I initially got interested in the CNET shopping service after reading about the launch at Next Generation Shopping. They have recently launched an API (Beta) for accessing 3 of their sites. Integrating the API into existing applications sounds cool due to the type of products these sites carry. Check out the CNET API