Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Apple is hiring RFID experts, wonder why.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags did start their life for tracking cattle, soon it went into sports for tracking marathon runners time.
Since a few years RFID is used in grocery stores and department stores and attached to products.
RFID is the electronic version of the printed bar codes which have the UPC (unique product code) encoded.
Imagine your iPhone would have a RFID reader embedded. Apple could either use it to collect users buying habit to develop perfect targeted marketing for their ad system. Apple could send a a banner message to the user when the user is looking at a certain product (assuming the product has a RFID tag) with a coupon attached to the banner with discount for the product the user is looking at (in proximity to RFID reader) or offer alternative products similar type.
Or Apple could open the RFID reader to 3rd party developers that they can build RFID applications (example app: user is holding the iPhone into the fridge and gets a list of items which are in the fridge), the sky would be the limit. Or Apple would collect the data secretly and the user would wonder why all ads are catered to users buying behavior. Maybe Apple wants to allow grocery payment with phone in store using RFID.
Or Apple is simply building a new device for brick and mortar stores to count their inventory.
I hope it is the latter two, because all other methods would be difficult from an ethical point of view. How far are we allowed to go to collect user data?
Our life is changing and we move more and more to a digital life. Which is great, but the risk is that a single person can't control anymore how much will be stored and how much can be used to influence user or to distribute through the world.
Before digital cameras and internet, a good night in the bar might be seen by 4 friends and 50 random people, and the only evidence of the good night are spoken words and printed pictures in someones photo album, which got eventual forgotten. Today even the boss will see it, potential 500 million other people, but the worst part it will be forever available, the Internet does not forget.
As marketer I love the possibility to learn more about user behavior and targeted marketing, but as a consumer I might be worry.
Apple is good for surprises (and now that Apple found a leak, the surprises will be surprises again). I will sit back, watch TV on my iPad and wait for the next announcement.

- Posted using My iPad

Location:Spinning Wheel Ln,Spring Hill,United States

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