Every year, a new company attempts to make a cell phone application that can read barcodes, transmit that information across the web, then return comparative price information. Overall, it’s a great concept, but I think companies are overthinking this one.
Companies are creating a ton of hurdles for themselves as they attempt to solve this problem. By framing the problem as a bar code scanning, reading, and transmission problem, they need to solve photo quality issues caused by humans who are very inconsistent when it comes to taking pictures.
They also have to overcome the software installation hurdle, which means they have to write software that runs on multiple platforms, convince people to install it, support the various versions over time, get people to upgrade it, etc. That’s a lot of work.
With that in mind, I think a new service called BooksPrice is going about solving this interesting issue in a much smarter way. Forget about mobile software. Instead, use SMS to communicate.
People are pretty good at texting compared to taking pictures. And it’s not that hard to find an text an ISBN number.
In BooksPrice.com’s model, they’re using Twitter to make this all happen. You follow BooksPrice on Twitter. They follow you back. Then, the next time you want to look up a book’s price, just send a directly tweet to booksprice like this:
To generate a response to your phone like this:
No mobile software required. Free to consumers. Available on all mobile devices that can send/receive text messages.