updated 11:55 am EST, Thu December 30, 2010
Echoes of Ping
A newly-published Apple patent application suggests the creation of a Ping-like social network for retail stores, AppleInsider notes. As a foundation, the patent argues that people will often take friends with them on shopping trips, or use phone calls and salespeople for advice. Apple's concept would allow people to communicate with others when shopping without having them immediately present.
The idea centers around having a portable device, namely an iPhone, which would tap into a special kiosk at a store to grab a product list. From there people could share questions and information about goods, getting posts from friends in response. In some cases simplified answer options could be used, such as a "yes/no" toggle or "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" buttons.
Apple suggests that businesses could exploit the service to get feedback. To that extent posts could include a five-star rating system, similar to that used on iTunes. The service in general bears many similarities to Ping, which is focused on encouraging iTunes shopping by showing what music other people like and are actively buying. The patent application in fact predates the network's launch; while just made public, it was originally submitted in January 2009.