In the old Ginsu commercials, they used to say "In Japan, the hand can be used like a knife...but this method doesn't work with a tomato."
Now, in the the United States and elsewhere, the smartphone can soon be used like a wallet, and this does work with tomatos or anything else you want to purchase!
Electronic payments are taking on new meaning as we go from paying with traditional credit and debit cards or even payment services like Paypal to actually using our smartphones to make those payments.
Wired Magazine (November 2010) reports that "Google's newest iteration of its Android phone OS will include a wallet that lets you use your phone to make payments by tapping it against a cash register."
According to Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, he envisions that "This could eventually replace credit cards."
"Like the technology built into debit cards that can be used to make a payment by bumping against a reader at a store or gas pump, Android 2.3 devices that have the right on-board chip will be able to make payments using stored credit card numbers or other payments systems such as Paypal."
Payment technologies coupled with context-aware computing (such as location awareness) will enable your local merchants to send shopping suggestions, reminders, coupons, loyalty programs rewards, and targeted deals to customers--all over their smartphones.
Aside from e-Payments, retailers are looking to up the ante in their competition with online merchants.
According to the Wall Street Journal today (26 April 2011), stores and malls are "threatened by the rapid growth of online retailing", where merchants are able to offer everything from product search, free shipping, easy returns, often no sales tax (like Amazon) and broadcast deals over the social networks like through Groupon. And while "online sales still account for a just a fraction of overall retail sales, they are growing rapidly gaining 12.6% last year to $176.2 billion."
Therefore, brick and mortar retailers are looking to offer a host of app functions for everything from creating online shopping lists, in store product search, you-are-here location functions, mall directories, parking-spot markers, reward programs, and display promotions.
So aside from iPhone plug-in for taking credit card payments on the smartphone (the topic of a prior blog), there are a lot of smartphones Apps and OS features coming that will make shopping easier, friendlier, and generally more convenient.
So in case you needed another excuse to go shopping and indulge...try out some of the new smartphone apps that will make your experience even that much more decadent. ;-)