Towards the end of last year, my former phone supplier decided that, as my contract had expired, they would respond by upping my monthly bill somewhat. Now, I had thought that the economics of mobile phones worked by having a HIGHER monthly bill during the initial contract, as a way of the network provider subsidising the cost of providing me with a handset.
I was happy with the handset I had, but unhappy with my provider, so thought I should change. One thing to consider, despite holding off smartphones for many years, was the iPhone. Despite the best attempts of the in-store staff to cross-sell me to a Blackberry (which was absolutely not what I wanted, and a surprising response given that I’d gone in looking to buy an iPhone), I was finally able to purchase it and (with one niggle, about the ringer volume being nothing like loud enough), I am delighted.
What I expect from an Apple product – more expensive than the competition, on a “feature count” basis, but a joy to use, with huge amounts of work in the design elements and ease of use.
Having got a smartphone, it then took me a few months to do anything other than use the built-in features. The web browsing in particular is something I’ve come to rely on, and the fact that more and more sites provide mobile skins optimised for mobile-device resolutions makes the mobile Internet experience a lot better than even a couple of years ago.
However, I now have my first app, and it’s great. It’s called pic2shop.
It uses a combination of the camera on the phone, and the always-on Internet connectivity to price-check something while you’re in a shop.
You start the app, point the camera at the bar-code on the product, and it locks on, and scans it… it then wanders off to the Internet, presumably to a server run by the pic2shop people, and finds price comparisons from various websites.
For books, it works very, very well. In Tesco today, I saw the newest Heston Blumenthal book, with a list price on the back of £35, but a Tesco special sticker on the front telling me it was £25, saving me a tenner. One zap of pic2shop later, and I discovered that Amazon sold it for £22.50 or thereabouts, so it never made it from the hand to the trolley. (I have Amazon Prime, so pay a fixed annual fee for next-day delivery no matter how many books I buy.)
Less success of magazines – Country Life’s barcode read, but the application couldn’t find an on-line seller. To be honest, I’m not so surprised.
Clearly, it isn’t going to help with items that don’t have barcodes – the LCD TVs in Tesco, for example, nor with own-brand goods for which there aren’t alternative suppliers…
… but for a free application, it’s marvellous. In the grand scheme of things, a £2.50 saving isn’t huge, but the feeling of smugness I get out of making said saving is out of all proportion to the raw economic value – turns out I am a creature driven by emotions after all.
[Other applications that do the same as pic2shop exist – I’ve not compared them, since the pic2shop seems to work well, and the others I found were chargeable apps, rather than free. It may well be available for other handsets, but again, I neither know nor care, since I’m not going to change my iPhone for another 18ish months.]