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I’m writing this newsletter on an Acer netbook I just bought for $79 and a two-year 3G wireless contract at $60 per month, using an application called Google Docs, the Internet company’s free version of Microsoft Office that is hosted online in the same way that many retail applications like StoreNext’s Connected Services or Revionics’ are hosted. It’s completely compatible with Microsoft’s Office suite of products, and can be saved to your computer or stored on the Web with your Google account.
With an 8.9-inch screen and weighing just a touch over 2 pounds, when closed it measures 1.14 inches by 9.8 inches wide by 6.7 inches deep — roughly the dimensions of a large trade paperback. But each unit packs a lot of functionality: it has an 8.9-inch screen, 1 gigabyte of RAM, 160-gigabyte hard drive plus two slots for SD cards, 3 USB 2.0 ports, a built-in webcam, and runs on Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition with Service Pack 3.
This is just another example of how the Internet is increasingly becoming a part of our lives. These netbooks are extremely portable and Web-friendly, and have both wireless modems and a 3G broadband modem — which gives you broadband Internet access anywhere you get mobile phone service, so you’re no longer limited to Wi-Fi hotspots like Starbucks. They are especially ideal for retail executives who are on the road often, traveling from store to store.
While Apple has yet to get into the netbook game, there is no shortage of retail applications for its iPhones. Indeed, a search of the iPhone App store turns up more than 40 applications for grocery alone, ranging from shopping list applications to programs that scour the Web for recipes to product locators (see below for information on two recently developed apps). And with more than 17 million iPhone users already, it’s a good bet many of your customers are using them. Manufacturers are already jumping into the game — Kraft launched its iFood Assistant last year — and many retailers in other channels have jumped on the iPhone bandwagon; in fact, many of the coupons offered through the Coupon Sherpa are those offering discounts for those shopping in stores like Finish Line, Zales Jewelers and Coldwater Creek. And the Organic Trade Association worked with a developer on a Green application. Which begs the question:
Where is your iPhone App?
I’m surprised that I haven’t seen a grocer co-brand one of these applications or work with a developer to build one of their own. But when one does, you can be sure to read about it in an upcoming newsletter.