Thursday, April 4, 2013

eBay Now and Google Shopping Express will ensure you never have to leave your house

When it comes to getting you hands quickly on the stuff you bought on the internet no e-commerce company can match the quality and efficiency of Amazon Prime, the shipping service provided by Amazon that delivers products in 1-2 days. Well now it seems like some of Amazon's rivals are testing the waters with same day delivery service.

eBay Now

eBay Now is a new mobile iOS app and local shopping service from eBay. It makes shopping at eBay simpler than it already is. Once the user downloads the app in his phone and logs in with the eBay user account, he can browse through 1000s of local retailers(Babies R Us, Best Buy, Free People, GNC, Guitar Center, Home Depot, Macy's, Office Depot, Radio Shack, Target, Toys R Us, Urban Outfitters, and Walgreens) and add items to his shopping cart. Finally hit "Bring It" and laze around on your couch while a valet goes to the store, picks up the items and delivers at your doorstep within an hour! You can then pay with Paypal or any other major credit card. This service is currently available in San Francisco, San Jose and New York city. eBay is now charging a flat fee of $5 for each order. Don't like what you just got, don't fret; the valet will come and pick it up from your house and return it to the store.

Google Shopping Express

Close to eBay Now's announcement, Google has rolled out its own same day delivery service called the Google Shopping Express. Google calls this service a "new experiment" and is inviting San Francisco Bay Area residents to take part in the trial. Interested users need to sign up for the service and will be intimidated if they are selected. Google has enlisted a number of national and local retailers for the initiative, including Target, Walgreens, Staples, American Eagle, and Toys "R" Us, plus San Francisco's own Blue Bottle Coffee and Raley's Nob Hill Foods. And when you think it cannot get any better, Google is offering the testers a free 6-month membership for unlimited same-day delivery! There are no plans yet about long-term pricing for this service. Perhaps Google wants to check out the response and then decide about getting its feet wet.

Apple iPhone now ships in a day
Well, technically Apple is not a e-commerce company and sells only its electronic products online but that has not stopped Apple from announcing a free one-day shipment for all iPhones. Currently a user can order a maximum of two phones at a time. Such services are generally announced by Apple during the holiday season. Wonder if this move is in response to the recent Samsung Galaxy S4 release which has received some rave reviews.

These services seem like the next logical step to e-commerce evolution -reduce our need to step out of our houses completely so we may enjoy watching more cat videos online and shunning human contact to a bare minimum!

Disclaimer: All ideas, thoughts or reviews published in this blog are my personal opinion and not that of my employer (Samsung).

Monday, April 1, 2013

What's the time? Ask Firefox

If the past two years of the electronic industry was about getting shiny touchy rectangles in every person's hand, 2013 seems to be the year where electronic manufacturers want to get even personal; get on user's wrists. Ever since the Pebble watch was announced on Kickstarter there has been a lot of excitement among the fatigued tech users to own a 'smartwatch' that will relieve them from the vicious circle of pulling out the phone, unlocking it and checking out the notification updates every couple of minutes. The initial batch of Pebble shipments coupled with the Apple's intentions to work on its own iWatch have added to the euphoria and now everyone wants a piece of the action. Apart from established players like Samsung and Google planning for their own smartwatches, Guoke, a Chinese manufacturer is also planning to launch the Bambook Smart Watch running Firefox OS according to CNet.

In the recently concluded Mobile World Congress where Firefox OS was unveiled to the world, a lot of critics mentioned it was a bit rough on the edges and not yet ready for prime-time usage.In fact, the Ubuntu OS pipped Firefox OS and won the Best of MWC award. So whether or not, Firefox will be ready to tell the time by the end of this year remains to be seen. If the speculated watch ran Firefox OS it will be a 'mini smartphone', syncing all the bookmarks, user passwords and other data stored on the cloud and the HTML5 based interface should be enough to get the basic things done.

So the question that looms large is why has the battlefield shifted from user's pockets to wrists. For starters, the first true smartphone - the iPhone announced in 2006 was revolutionary. Nobody had seen or used such a seamless interface until then. Then came Android which created the market for budget smartphones. Though both iPhones and Android handsets have received significant upgrades in terms of processing speed, memory, battery capacity, display, etc all these features seem 'evolutionary' rather than 'revolutionary'. Despite having it all, it's human tendency to expect the next big thing and the humble watch seems to fit the category perfectly. Though smartphones help us stay connected all the time, sometimes we are inundated with more notifications than we care and have developed an obsessive compulsive disorder to keep checking the phone every couple of seconds . This needs to stop and that is what a smartwatch promises to deliver - display only the 'important notifications' and filter out the noise. As to how each speculated watch is going to handle it, remains to be seen.

It is quite clear that this year we are going to see a lot of smartwatches from various electronics manufacturers - known and unknown. Will Apple be able to repeat its success in this category?

May the best watch win!

Image credit: CNet

Disclaimer: All ideas, thoughts or reviews published in this blog are my personal opinion and not that of my employer (Samsung).