Shopping is about to become a whole lot more social.
According to the information contained within the patent application released this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple may be interested in expanding the reach of its Ping social networking platform into the realm of brick and mortar retail.
Apple Insider reported on Thursday morning that Apple’s patent application entitled “Social Networking in Shopping Environments” presents a scenario in which connected shoppers provide real time feedback to other shoppers regarding products, services, and their general shopping environment via social networking kiosks.
In a store, a kiosk would allow customers to access a product list and information on their phone. That product and the details about it could then be shared through Apple’s social networking tool. In one example, a user can identify items of interest and share information directly to mobile devices of their friends. From there, friends can review the products and provide their own comments and feedback.
As social networking becomes a more commonplace if not permanently ingrained aspect of everyday life, Apple may be onto something here, although fusing one particular social networking platform with the shopping experience may be monumentally more difficult to achieve than even Apple may presently realize. Still, the concept could prove a powerfully appealing one to connected shoppers who consider social networking and contemporary shopping to be inextricably linked.
“If it becomes a reality,” the report reads, “it would be the second social networking product from Apple designed to stimulate sales. The first, iTunes Ping, launched in September, and is designed to allow users to share details of what songs they purchase and concerts they attend. It allows users to easily purchase recommended songs through the iTunes Music Store.”