The Web Makes Long-Distance Beer Buddies

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[ Technology]

When a company describes its product as Amazon.com meets Minority Report, it’s not terribly clear if that’s a good thing. But receiving a text message on your mobile that’s good for one birthday beer most certainly is.

Sydney, Australia-based bCODETM (catchy company name, isn’t it? It rolls off the tongue like fltzumphnutlk. Somebody should tell them to work on the in their press releases) launched a consumer portal called bcodedrinks.com that allows users to buy “wireless drinks” for friends and colleagues via SMS messaging.

And if you really want to embarrass them from a distance, you can create a multimedia message to send along with the drink coupon that will play on the bar’s big screen. Ever been mooned from a remote location? You will be soon, during the commercial break, in front of your real friends that actually showed up to your party, on the 60-inch.

So far, the service is only available at 15 Sydney locations, but this could be an idea that takes off. It’s based on what the company (because I can’t say fltzumphnutlk) calls the “Pervasive Web,” an interactive network between PCs and wireless devices.

Bars that accept the wireless drink vouchers use a bCODE Reader, a mobile phone scanning device that optically scans the SMS voucher from the mobile phone screen. The accompanying message (mooning) is then transferred to the big screen.

At the bCODE website, users can choose themes, graphics, and animation for their messages, as well as upload images.

The company says that unlike 2D barcode and RFID-based mobile ticketing technologies that limit phone chipsets and types of graphics, bCODE’s encoding is based on standard SMS text messaging supported by 99% of all mobile devices.

“For retailers, applications like bCODE-Drinks demonstrate how they can convert a web visitor into a store customer using the mobile phone,” said Michael Mak, CEO of bCODE. “It’s like pay-per-click advertising, but it goes from online to offline into the physical world.”

Mak estimates that Mobile Commerce (M-Commerce) can eclipse e-commerce by putting customers physically in the retail space.

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