Sprint Nextel today begins offering a search service from GPShopper that uses global-positioning-system technology, enabling consumers to use cellphones to find products in stores.
The service allows shoppers to learn where they can buy a specific product based on their GPS location signal. Previously, users of the "Slifter" service needed to punch in a ZIP code along with product-search terms. Not knowing a ZIP code was a roadblock for people in unfamiliar locations.
Slifter saves items to a shopping list, which can be shared with friends via text messages. The service costs $1.99 a month for Sprint subscribers with data plans, which typically cost from $15 to $25 a month.
GPShopper said GPS technology opens the door to wider adoption of Slifter. GPS has become available in many cellphone models and is increasingly familiar to consumers because of its use in automobile navigation systems.
Slifter has been used by several hundred thousand people, most of whom learned about the service from friends through Slifter's sharing feature. Slifter draws on retailer inventory data on 65 million products at 30,000 store locations, including Best Buy, Staples and Toys 'R' Us. Retailers provide the data to GPShopper and pay a fee whenever consumers click on a link to a product listings.
Slifter should get a boost from Sprint, which has 53 million subscribers and has shown more willingness than competitors to give its customers access to mobile software from third parties. Sprint offers customers an array of services that take advantage of GPS technology, including a search service which lets consumers do things such as search for tickets sold by Ticketmaster, and a mapping service that provides turn-by-turn driving directions. Such services help separate Sprint from competitors and give customers reasons to pay for data plans, which are key to wireless carriers' growth strategies. (info from The Wall Street Journal)