Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Communications Businesses Technology

Amazon Japan Offers Barcode Purchases via Camera Phone 211

Posted by timothy
from the disintermediation dept.
Zode writes "Jesse James Garrett reports that Amazon Mobile Japan customers can purchase a item with their camera phones. "Snap a photo of a product bar code using your cell phone, and Amazon Japan will give you a price check," according to Garrett, relaying from this article in Ketai Watch (Wireless Watch). Here's the English translation from Babelfish."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Amazon Japan Offers Barcode Purchases via Camera Phone

Comments Filter:
  • by Barbarian (9467) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @05:16AM (#10907649)
    ...in 6 years. That's how these things tend to go.

    also 4th post.
  • Purchase from ADs ? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gopal.V (532678) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @05:20AM (#10907662) Homepage Journal
    It looks as though the shopping is done from bar codes on Real-ads :)

    Bar codes are kinda hard to get right on a mobile phone camera (but I think high end only).

    This is the beginning of a new cross-shopping trend. Enter a shop, look for a product , enter in amazon , measure urgency vs economy , pick it up or order :)

    I already saw a company in India offer an IR universal remote control for their phones (Nokia 3220 IIRC) . Was a trial version for 15 days after which it asks whether you want to buy the app. You pay for it through your mobile too and the bill comes down to you as part of your monthly phone bill.

    M-commerce , eh ?
    • This is the next step from applications that exist today. For example, J2ME-enabled phones can run Piranha Pricecheck [mpowers.net]. I even wrote up a simple book price check application [ericgiguere.com] that I was going to use for an article but never went too far with it.

      This stuff is quite easy to do with Amazon's web services [amazon.com]. On a mobile phone, oddly enough, the ISBN [ericgiguere.com] is also really easy to enter from the keypad, since it's all digits except for the trailing X that sometimes occurs (modulo 11 check digit) and you can infer that.

      E

    • by radio.cgt (582917)
      America (assuming that's where you are) must be really behind with phones. I had an IR remote* on my uk 7650 just less than 2 years ago, admittedly then it was still in beta and only worked with a few tvs and my stereo, but for at least a year it's been as universal as anything, plus if you can find the data files on the net, you can configure it for any device. And that method of paying has been around in the UK for as long as i care to remember too, at first it was by charging you loads for a text messag
  • by Kiyooka (738862) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @05:20AM (#10907666)
    you could put the price on the bar code tag instead, thereby saving your customers time and energy.

    They won't even need a cell phone. Imagine that!
    • would you like to be the one who does that?
    • by Lord Kano (13027) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @05:33AM (#10907700) Homepage Journal
      First, one of the benefits of bar codes is that you don't have to put individual price tags on items anymore.

      Second, if you had to pay someone to manage all of those price tags, you'd have to raise your prices thereby making amazon an even more attractive alternative and losing even more business in the proces.

      Third, did you even think about what you were suggesting before you did it?

      LK
    • I think the idea is, that in whatever show you are, you can send the barcode (printed on the back of the book usually) to Amazon, and then get their price for the same product.

      I don't think a random bookstore would want Amazon prizes on their books, and I doubt printing presses would be willing to print Amazon prints with their barcodes, and Amazon prizes and offers change often so printed price would be outdated anyway.
      • That brings up another thought -- how long before some shop decides that this is damaging their business and either bans using the cellphone for this purchase, or considers Amazon's practice to be unethical?

        Or -- this may cause shopkeepers to enquire the best price at Amazon and provide a competitive pricing, since the former would result in bad business (and a bad reputation).
        • It's not unethical at all. The prices listed in stores is public information. There's nothing stopping you from walking into the store, checking the price on an item, going home, and comparing to places you find on the Internet (such as Amazon, or other competition).

          In fact, this very practice is performed by competing stores -- employees of Store A are hired to check the prices at Store B. The catch is to not let employees at Store B catch you checking their prices (usually you need to record the prices s
    • I think the idea here is not to find out what price the store is charging. But to compare the stores price against Amazon's
  • Far Out indeed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Desiderata (828917) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @05:21AM (#10907669) Journal
    That's amazingly far out. It sounds like something from a scifi movie... but it could turn out to be useful. I doubt my camera phone can take such clear pictures (hey, I have trouble recognizing myself) but all things are possible in Japan. Just out of curiosity (the Babelfish article did NOT make sense) would this mean that while buying something at a shop, you would realize it's cheaper on Amazon? I don't know, taking into account shipping and the 1-2 days wait for products, I would just buy it at the store while it was right in front of me.
    • Whenever I'm at the video shop, my consumerist mind tries to draw connections.

      "Ah, The Dancer upstairs Decent movie. But I'd really like to see the film the the guerillas were watching. 'Something... of Siege' and so on."

      Having access to online reviews would also be helpful. Amazon provides those, although, naturally, if it doesn't carry old Costa-Gavras films, it probably won't be of much use. A cell phone interface to the imdb might be more useful...
    • Shipping is generally free at Amazon if you buy at least $25, and I guess similar systems apply to other merchants. As for the delay, just look atthe price difference and figure out if it's worth it for you. I have gotten used to a delay between purchase and delivery as I have ordered online most of the CDs, DVDs and books that I have bought in the last three years. I ofter place new orders even before I receive those that are already out.

      Even not mentionning the price, I prefer to dig unbiased into Ama
  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @05:21AM (#10907670) Homepage Journal
    "In addition, such as CD sales ranking of search keyword ranking and American Amazon the male also information is published."

    Why is Amazon publishing my male information?

    • Unfortunately slashdot seems to ignore Japanese characters in comments ...

      I think the Fish got confused trying to parse "osusume" which means recommendation, which has an honorific "o-" at the front; the first two syllables "osu" by themselves can be read as a different word, meaning the male (of some sort of animal).

      Because written Japanese rarely has divisions between words marked, trying to decipher text written in hiragana can be a challenge for translation software (and for people like me trying to

  • by lastninja (237588) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @05:22AM (#10907674)
    How long until bookstores forbid the use of camera phones? I think many bookstore owners would be less than pleased if people only entered their store to be able to buy books from some other place.
    • by Cryptnotic (154382) * on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @05:54AM (#10907757) Homepage
      Prices on books in Japan are pretty much fixed. The price including or excluding tax (which is a standard 5% across the country) are printed on the book by the publisher. I guess there are discounters, but Amazon doesn't seem to be one of them. All prices there seem to be standard, or maybe 5% or so off.

      Japan does other weird things like splitting books into two halves. I'm not sure what purpose this serves, since usually they're sold together. I guess you could maybe buy the first half and then decide if you want to buy and read the second half or not. Maybe it's easier to hold one small book at a time rather than one large book.

      My kanji and vocabulary are so weak that all I can read are manga for kids. Even then, I need a dictionary, and I'm probably picking up all kinds of weird childish or goofy expressions.

      • My kanji and vocabulary are so weak that all I can read are manga for kids. Even then, I need a dictionary, and I'm probably picking up all kinds of weird childish or goofy expressions.

        Waitress: Hello! Please come in. We have a table for you over here. Can I get you a drink?
        Cryptnotic: Pikachu! I choose you!

      • Japan does other weird things like splitting books into two halves

        In the US we have wierd stores like Cosco that put two boxes of cereal and put them in a 3rd box.
      • by ProfitElijah (144514) <elijah@atheist.com> on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @07:55AM (#10907989) Homepage
        Yeah, they split them because Japanese books are historically a smaller form factor than Western ones. Lord of the Rings, for example, is sold as an 11 book box set. Smaller books fit in handbags better, and given than nearly everyone in Tokyo has a painfully long commute, making books small enough to hold in one hand while standing is a good idea. I used to reverse commute from my place in central Tokyo out to the National Cancer Center East, about 2 hours in all, and standing most of the way. Little books would have been nice.
        • While this is true (I have several Murakami Haruki novels that are physically small and split into two volumes) you also see books like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone which is, at least in hardback, a single volume. South Korea also does this: my copy of the first Harry Potter is published in Korean in two soft-bound volumes.
      • Prices on books in Japan are pretty much fixed. The price including or excluding tax (which is a standard 5% across the country) are printed on the book by the publisher. I guess there are discounters, but Amazon doesn't seem to be one of them. All prices there seem to be standard, or maybe 5% or so off.

        Actually, there is a law (something along the lines of protecting cultural identity) that specifically forbids selling new books/magazines for less than the marked price. Amazon.jp would love to discount
    • So I could buy the book, walk out the door, scan it, see the price at Amazon, order it, return the book to the 1st vendor, and be done with it. All within a moment. Vendors are going to have to compete, or they're going to close and everything will be done by mail. People think this is cool, yet when Walmart comes to town, they think that sucks. Why? It's the same thing. Actually, Walmart employs local people, so it's better than Amazon.com.
      The state of Vermont wanted to outlaw Walmart from opening up
    • by takochan (470955) <takochan42@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @09:17AM (#10908230)
      I live in Japan.

      They didn't ban the phones, but came up with a uniquely Japanese compromise.

      They got together with the phone maker association and got them to agree that when phones take a picture, they *must* (all phones do it now BTW) make LOUD camera clicking sounds, or play LOUD music that you can hear across the store...

      This way the store keeper can hear the sound, come and throw you out...

    • "How long until bookstores forbid the use of camera phones? I think many bookstore owners would be less than pleased if people only entered their store to be able to buy books from some other place."

      That's a good reason for the customers to leave and go to Amazon.co.jp, which doesn't seem concerned in the slightest that customers are loading their site only to read their reviews and comparison shop at other stores. (And I must say, amazon.co.jp is a pretty dang friendly shopping experience, even to foreig

    • That's an interesting question. For a long while now I've had the idea to put in a barcode reader into every phone/pda and then use some kind of wan connection (or synch when you get home) to get more info on the competitor's prices and information about the company like if they have been involved in any major anti-trust suits, who they donate political money to, the safety ratings of their products, who they are owned by, etc.

      It would really empower the consumber and could be used for a lot of neat tri
    • It's been a while I haven't bought anything in the bookstore where I hang out an average of two hours per week. When I find a book that I like, I write down its ISBN on a piece of paper, or, ironically, I voice-memo it on my cellphone. When I'm back home I look it up on Amazon and I buy it used from someone on the Amazon Marketplace.

      I have even formulated the idea that bookstores should just give up on selling books and have people pay a flat fee to hang out, and provide internet terminals where we could
  • All we need now.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by up4fun (602118) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @05:22AM (#10907675)
    is standard barcodes and we could do price comparisons in the same way that shazam [shazam.com] tags recorded music.

    Imagine sending a picture of a barcode to ebay to see if there's an auction for that item running.
    • Barcodes should be unique on consumer goods. One problem is that identical products destined for different countries will pick up different IDs.
    • Imagine sending a picture of a barcode to ebay to see if there's an auction for that item running.

      I tried that but inevitably and quite rapidly my thoughts kept turning to images of naked babes and luxurious priviledge.

      Could be my needs are different to yours.

      Sorry. I'm just not in data processing mode currently.

  • by novalogic (697144) <aramovaNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @05:23AM (#10907677)
    Well, this seems like a neat system, however, I hardly ever use Amazon as a price referance, I tend to look at ebay when I buy things. If it's retail, then it's retail. It's the aftermarket price that I worry about... Unless www.pricewatch.com can come up with a system like this, that woud be snazzy
  • by Raindeer (104129) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @05:26AM (#10907685) Homepage Journal
    Great that this idea is being implemented.I have thought of fiddling with the Dutch equivalent of Pricewatch and Froogle on my Treo 600 in a store to see for instance what a certain keyboard would cost elsewhere. In the end I ended up with searching online first for what I wanted and just recording the prices on a paper list. (envelope scraps are just so passe)

    I would like to add a feature request. Could they hook it up to the review sections as well, so that it becomes possible not only to see how much it costs elsewhere, but also if people like it at all. Even nicer would be if it could turn into some augmented shopping list, complete with tips like If you buy this, you will need that etc.

    • Have everyone in their brick and mortar shop just using it as a display room for Amazon or whatever online company.

      Gee, good computer shops already have the problem that people come to them for advice and then go to the crappy cheap shop for their actual purchase. Only to return to the good shop when things go wrong and then be upset that no we don't fix other shops computers for free.

      Friend of mine is about to commit murder if he gets one more Dell on the counter with a demand to fix it for free because

      • by Raindeer (104129) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @05:55AM (#10907762) Homepage Journal
        Your argument is correct for the most part. I'm willing to bet some are going to hate it. However a smart salesperson can also use it to his/her advantage. Point the buyer at the fact that the price difference is not large, that their are benefits in buying in a shop, because of service and then use a recommendation for an extra as a way to sell an item on top of the deal. If there is a steep price difference then try to give the buyer a package deal with a discount, which still leaves the seller with a nice margin.

        Research in the Netherlands has shown most Dutch people search online for product information, but buy offline if the price difference is not too high, or they want instant gratification etc etc.
        • If you're already at a store, doing a price check, it'd have to be a fair margin for me to go home, order it over the Internet and wait for it to arrive in the mail. Both in terms of cost and time.

          Usually, I do it the other way around though. Check online, then drop by a store if I'm near one. Same basic idea, only then I don't need this service.

          Kjella
          • That is why the Dutch website www.vergelijk.nl also incorporates the shipping and handling charges in their price comparisons. :-)

            You still might like a service like this, when shopping because it could give you extra features, like customer reviews, suggestions etc.

      • Have everyone in their brick and mortar shop just using it as a display room for Amazon or whatever online company.
        Boo hoo. Look, it can just as easily cut the other way. Don't you do product research on the Web even if you're going to buy locally? I do.
      • I think the big chain retail bookstores are a more realistic model for how successful retailers are going to adapt to the net. Four or five years ago, the buzz was that Amazon.com was going to flat put all of them out of business. So, Barnes & Nobel and Borders realized that people needed a good reason to come into their stores. I worked in a Waldenbooks fifteen years ago, and we had no facilities for lingering over books (and actively discouraged browsing by those who seemed unlikely to buy). Bever
  • More than once in Borders I've found a computer book for £30-40 that I will check with Amazon before buying in-store. Sometimes it's cheaper, sometimes I want the book now. As someone else said I expect Borders' friendly no-hassles attitude to change the moment they spot someone typing an ISBN into their phone (or snapping a barcode).
  • by shaneh0 (624603) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @05:44AM (#10907735)
    I saw Jeff Bezos on TechTV about a year ago and he talked about this technology as being a precursor to complete optical product recognition.

    Essentially, he explained, you could take a picture of anything from the cover of a book to an action figure, mountain bike, sandbox, stereo reciever, sweatshirt or snow mobile and recieve price comparison from Amazons network of retail sites and "shops."

    I remember it distinctly because it was the first time i actually felt that a camera on a cell phone wasn't the most idiotic idea I've ever heard.

    This was, of course, BEFORE I discovered that women stick their camera-phones down their pants and take pictures, and ACTUALLY POST THEM ON THE INTERNET!

    Hmm.. I wonder if Amazon.nl would give you a price comparison of THAT... hmmm... ...not that I would use such a service, even if it existed... ...but if you happen to, you know, come across one.. maybe.. let me know?
  • Except for the odd mistake the translation is very readable... Time for the "loosely translated from japanese"... cliche to die [planettribes.com]
    • Ahh... It's been a while. I remember back when that was the most awesome thing I had ever seen. There was so much great spin-off stuff too, like the clip of the girl who called the LoveLine radio show and said, "my boyfriend has this phrase he wants me to say during sex. It's 'all your base are belong to us'".

  • by Advocadus Diaboli (323784) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @05:46AM (#10907744)
    ... but in my county you have to pay money to send photos from a cell phone to someone. So instead of spending my money on products I'm asked to spend my money on getting the price for the products? That looks quite strange to me. :-)
    • It uses a special program, which in all likelihood sends the photo directly to Amazon and doesn't charge for it. Or maybe even analyzes the photo itself, and just sends a barcode ID.

    • Actually my keitai has a barcode reader built in. I flip it open, and under the utilities section of the menus there's an option called "barcode reader". The screen goes to an ultra-magnified camera view and it beeps and displays the barcode info when it recognizes the barcode.

      You can use it on any barcode btw. Soft drinks, books, websites [sn-y.net] etc. Lots of sites with the funky square barcodes encode a URL in them, and the phone will pop it up and ask if you want to open the URL in your phone's browser.

      In
  • I knew the system allready but now amazon is joining this program it could just make a big flight.

    I don't kow however if this would work anywhere outside of Japan. The cultural aspects of payments out there are quit different from those in the western world.
  • Babelfish (Score:4, Funny)

    by MadFarmAnimalz (460972) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @05:57AM (#10907767) Homepage
    I ran the babelfish translation through a markov generator and was not surprised when the output made more sense than the babelfish translation. Here:

    The Amazon Japan ...
    did the portable edition of online book store "Amazon.co.jp" service
    is started from 2001, but ...
    was done attendant upon the efficiency improvement multi-functionality
    of carrying. Were added in personal computer edition became purchase
    possible. In addition, such as CD sales ranking of search keyword
    ranking and American Amazon the male also information is published.
    Also navigation and search function of the portable telephone and
    can scan the bar-code of the commodity, also the service which with
    the same sight the purchase possible commodity it can order directly.
    At the same company, when the commodity which order and the friend
    of the consumable have likes, when liking to know whether what kind
    of related commodity sells in other things, with you say that utilization
    when you said is supposed. EZweb, border phone live! Edition, while
    looking at the trend of i mode edition, have assumed that it keeps
    examining. On the 22nd concert was held inside capital. As for jasper
    of Representative President same company,
    "those where the commodity is discovered in Amazon with scan search,
    become very simple", that appealing the easiness of the same service.
    Concerning ... doing
    portable edition "with respect to the strategy, as the importance
    you consider also Mobile", that it does, "function of personal computer
    edition even with Mobile steadily probably becomes possible. On the
    one hand, keeps constructing also just Mobile feature ", that you
    talked the future enthusiasm. As for access to of portable edition
    Amazon.co.jp, if with the same
  • by joda (124489) <magnus@ordkunOPENBSDskap.se minus bsd> on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @06:05AM (#10907786) Homepage
    It means mobile and is used as a slang (or rather abbrevation) for mobile phone (which is keitai-denwa). So keitai watch is a news site about phones, not wireless stuff in general.

    It's BTW pronounced ke-tai.

  • Nice idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lintux (125434) <slashdotNO@SPAMwilmer.gaast.net> on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @06:14AM (#10907804) Homepage
    This is the first time that I actually see a sane reason to have a camera in a mobile phone. They're too crappy for taking real pictures, they increase the weight of the phone by 25%, more and more places are banning cam-phones... But at least now you can use them to buy stuff at Amazon. ;-)

    I wonder if they patented this...
    • Hohum...
      I'd roughly estimate the CCD and decoder chip to weight something around 2-4 grams.
      Some light weight phones you got if that's 25% of the total weight...

      Surely there's no other use for the processing power (the other extra electronics) in multimedia phones than viewing the pictures.
    • If you can't think of lots of applications for cameras with attached processors and networking, you're not thinking hard enough. The worst thing about cellphones and PDAs is the low-bandwidth data entry. Camera + software = high-bandwidth data entry.

      Most of the pictures in my PDA are of business cards, sticky notes, handouts, and whiteboards. There's a map of a trail I hiked, captured at the trail-head. Then there are some funny spur-of-the-moment shots, like my wife bouncing on a pogo stick at Toys R

  • Readable translation (Score:4, Informative)

    by kahei (466208) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @06:31AM (#10907833) Homepage

    I said 'readable', I didn't say 'good'... I'm at work. Anyway:

    Amazon japan have updated the mobile phone version of the amazon.co.jp shopping site, which they run. The menu and search screens have been completely redone, and for iMode, there's a service starting whereby you can scan a barcode using your phone and look up or buy an item.

    The amazon.co.jp online store mobile verison was opened in 2001 but has been remade in the light of the improved power and functionality of mobile phones. The 'home & kitchen' and 'toy & hobby' stores, included in the PC version of the site, are now in the mobile version, and products not in the PC version's 'marketplace' can be bought too. Recommendations appear too, in the form of search keyword rankings and the CD sales rankings from the US version.

    The navigation and search functionality of the menu screens has been enhanced too. In each store, bargain corner products, 'campaign' (ie sales promotion) information, and discounted 'red' prices are visible -- as well as product images. In product search, detailed search features are available depending on the type of product, and a search can be done from any screen.

    As a new experiment, the iMode-oriented 'Amazon Scan Search' service has been begun. With this, you download a free specialized application, and using the camera in your mobile you can scan the barcodes on items. After scanning, a request is sent to the mobile version of amazon.co.jp, and if the item is one that can be obtained at that site, you can order it. The same company also suggests you use the feature when ordering consumables, or when you want an item like one that your freind has, or when you want to see what related products are for sale. The 'Vodaphone Live!' version of EZWeb is also considering the iMode trend.

    A product launch was held on the 22nd. Amazon's representative director, Jasper Chan, emphasized the convenience of the new service, saying 'With Scan Search, discovering Amazon products has become unbelievably easy!' Concerning the remake of the mobile version of the site, he said 'We see mobiles as strategically vital' and describing the enthusiasm with which the matter will be taken forward, he said 'Whatever functionality is available to the PC version will, more and more, be in the mobile version as well. On the other hand, we will also be building functionality specially to suit mobiles'.

    The amazon.co.jp mobile version is accessed via iMode from 'Shopping Ticket', via EZWeb from 'Shopping'/'Books/CDs/DVDs', and via Vodaphone Live! from 'Shopping/Ticket'/'Books/CDs/DVDs/Games'.

  • by ceeam (39911)
    Ok, I snap a product in the shop, but can I shove it into my pocket right then? What reason the guards have not to detent me? How does the physical stuff move? If I snap something in my home (and by some strange coincidence post the picture to processing number) would they still bill me?
    • Oh, sorry, now I see - they will sell you another same item (book or whatever), not the item you're snapping. As such - you can indeed sell them a barcode of the thing you liked at your friend's (for example) and they will send you the same. Cool.
  • by nordicfrost (118437) * on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @06:52AM (#10907851)
    The good folks at Delicious Monster [delicious-monster.com] have the Delicious Library [arstechnica.com] where you can use your iSight or other camera to scan your DVD library barcodes for ease of use. Quite pornographic.
  • Especially for making links on flyers easy to follow with your i-mode or ez-web (two largest mobile online services in Japan) enabled phone.

    You just smack a barcode on the bottom of your ad-flyer (for the latest PS2-game, or whatever) and have people shooting them with their phone-camera and instantly get redirected to the product homepage. Kinda neat and really handy as entering URLs on a phone is a real pain in the ass.

    These barcodes also confirm to some sort of standard (dunno the name), so it's easy f
  • isbn (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zozzi (576178) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @07:22AM (#10907922)
    or how about you just sms the isbn number printed below the hard-to-scan ( no dammit that's not the book I want ) and obtain the same thing????
  • by ntxb229 (542609)
    I'm not sure this will catch on or that I'd want it to with RFID right around the corner. How long before RFID replaces every barcode on everything? Can't be much more than 5 years. This is a very cool thing though, especially the idea of being able to look up reviews for an item you're looking at in store.
  • It is against the law in Japan to sell books at under list price so this gimmick is not really going to work for books.

    For other things to laws are different so DVDs, games, eletronics and other things Amazon sells this might be useful.
    • It is against the law in Japan to sell books at under list price so this gimmick is not really going to work for books.

      Unless you decide to buy a book when you are not at a book store. You might want to buy a book your friend owns, or one you found in the library.

      • Okay, let me amend that. It is against the law in Japan to sell "new" books below list price. There is a company called Book Off which tried to get around the law by opening the books (they often come wrapped) and then claiming the books were used therefore they could sell them cheaper. They got taken to court though by the book store association or something such thing.

        I suspect the same will happen to Amazon.
    • Then buy used books. That's what I already do : I write down the ISBN of boks I like in the bookstore, then I buy them on Amazon Marketplace or Half.com
  • Combine this perl with the browser of your choice and you have the same thing.

    $!/usr/bin/perl
    my $searchURL = "http://froogle.google.com/froogle?q=%1";
    my $browser = "kfmclient openURL";

    open( F, "lynx -source 'http://www.upcdatabase.com/item.pl?upc=659556585 9 21'|");
    while()
    {
    if(/Description.+<td>([^<]*)<\/td>/ ) {
    $searchURL =~ s/%1/$1;
    system("$browser \"$searchURL\"");
    }
    }
    close(F);

    Now all you need is a program to turn a UPC picture into a bar code (can probably find one already
  • a couple of companies already do similar things with SMS (and have done so for years). For example [qed-uk.com]in the UK theres an online retailer that sells electrical goods online. If you're out shopping and see something, you can SMS them the model number and they'll send you back their price.
    I've only ever bought one thing from them, but it's just nice to use it to reassure yourself you're not being completely ripped off buying soemthing on the High Street.
    Amazon's barcode reading functionality is very nifty I'm
    • I for one don't want to be using my phone numeric pad to type in something like "Computational Geomentry: numeric methods and algorithms for the graphical computer scientist". By the time I got to the end of that using 1-3 pushes/pauses per letter, I'd just have bleeding stump left for a thumb.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN

Working...