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Despite the lackluster response thus far to Ping, Apple’s first attempt at social networking, newly revealed patents show that the company isn’t stopping there -- someday, your iPhone may be used for social networking during shopping trips as well.
AppleInsider is reporting that Apple patents show the company may be interested in pursuing “a social networking tool for brick-and-mortar shopping, allowing iPhone owners to share comments, opinions and recommendations about any type of product.” The discovery comes courtesy of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, who published the patent application entitled “Social Networking in Shopping Environments” this week.
The Apple patent, first discovered by AppleInsider themselves, proposes “using a portable electronic device, like an iPhone, to allow customers to network with one another while shopping.” For example, users can ping their friends about an item they’d like to buy, then get immediate feedback and comments from others.
“In a store, a kiosk would allow customers to access a product list and information on their phone,” AppleInsider explains. “That product and the details about it could then be shared through Apple's social networking tool. The system could be as simple as providing friends the ability to give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, or a virtual ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down.’ In one example, a shopper asks their friends, ‘Should I buy this?’ In another, a husband asks ‘Help, I need birthday gift ideas for my wife. Will she like this?’”
The experience is akin to having friends along for the shopping trip, but can be enlisted for times when others aren’t physically available to lend a hand, or even for coordinating a shopping trip without relying upon phone calls or text messages.
Apple’s latest patent is credited to Stanley Ng, Christine Cho and Monica Tran and was first filed on January 26, 2009. Of course, there’s no way of knowing if and when Apple might actually implement the technology, but it’s good to know that the company isn’t stopping with the much-lamented Ping.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
(Image courtesy of AppleInsider)