Monday, June 19, 2017

Amazon has a patent to keep you from comparison shopping while you’re in its stores; Washington Post, June 16, 2017

Brian Fung, Washington Post; Amazon has a patent to keep you from comparison shopping while you’re in its stores

"Amazon was awarded a patent May 30 that could help it choke off a common issue faced by many physical stores: Customers’ use of smartphones to compare prices even as they walk around a shop. The phenomenon, often known as mobile “window shopping,” has contributed to a worrisome decline for traditional retailers.

But Amazon now has the technology to prevent that type of behavior when customers enter any of its physical stores and log onto the WiFi networks there. Titled “Physical Store Online Shopping Control,” Amazon’s patent describes a system that can identify a customer’s Internet traffic and sense when the smartphone user is trying to access a competitor’s website. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos is also the owner of The Washington Post.)...

Just because a company wins a patent doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll use it. Sometimes companies file for patents to ensure they have the option to put the idea into practice later, or to keep other companies from implementing the concept. So, a system such as the kind Amazon’s envisioning might never be rolled out. And even if it is, chances are shoppers could still get around the system by staying off the in-store WiFi."

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