Think Toshiba when you think of mobile phones? Most people don’t. But if the Japanese electronics company has anything to do with it, that perception will soon change in a big way.
Toshiba, much better known for its notebooks, DVD players, digital cameras, and industrial equipment, is getting into the mobile game. And the result might just rival the industry’s largest players.
The idea is that the Toshiba Mobile Phone Service, or whatever it will eventually be called, will enable the consumer to take a snapshot of a product’s bar code and then receive shopping data in response. The bar code is then sent through the magic of wireless technology to a Toshiba server, which surfs the Net for blogs on the product in question. The final step is a “blog crunch” analysis that distills the Net information and sends back data that the consumer can process in order to make a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.
All this happens, of course, in the blink of an eye. It would probably take longer to read the information spit back to the mobile phone than to snap the picture and transmit and receive the data.
The key will be how well stocked the Toshiba server is with bar codes and blogs. Such technology already exists for PCs, but Toshiba’s announcement is a significant step forward to mobile shopping.
The idea will be tested in earnest at stores in Japan in March. Provided that those tests meet the company’s specifications, the service will be available in April 2007.