software developers' kit. The Dallas, Texas company announced this afternoon that it hit a landmark 500 licensees. The company offers multiple forms of license, for both iOS and Android, including a free ad-supported level. That means more than 500 different apps now use its technology to scan, interpret and react to barcodes that mobile phone users hold in their hands offline.Social shopping mobile app ShopSavvy does a lot of things but one of the things it does particularly well is license out its barcode scanning technology through a
Don't let the simple nature of a barcode fool you - this technology has big potential to be disruptive. An impressive list of announced customers of the ShopSavvy SDK include Consumer Reports, PriceGrabber, CNET and Walmart/Sam's Club. The company has worked before with Ford and Gold's Gym. Those companies are likely still experimenting; the big impact of this technology remains ahead.
ShopSavvy faces many different competitors in licensing barcode scanning technology but has the advantage of brand recognition from its own popular consumer app. The app lets you scan a barcode on a product and search for lower prices nearby or online. In February the company added Groupon search to its offerings.
Why This Matters
Popular competitor Red Laser also offers an SDK but was acquired by eBay last June, a move we wrote could call into question its network of independent commercial developers, including Target. The introduction of eBay into the mix made that situation all the more complicated; but it had to be largely the network that eBay was interested in. If I've got a network of hundreds of different apps using my technology to tell people where they should buy the physical product they are holding in their hand at a store - doesn't that sound like a place eBay would like to be?
Writing about the disruptive possibilities of these kinds of barcode scanning apps in retail, Gartner's chief of research in social software Tom Austin wrote in December:
If you want to be creative, ask what entirely new business models might emerge from the dust of this collision between smart phones, smarter buyers, almost-ubiquitous wireless internet services and retail. If wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers are going to push product at discount to disintermediate the retailers and capture the extra profit for themselves, what major changes might we see? (After all, why won't they do that?)...Smart phones (operated by more savvy people), accessing the Internet, now threaten to do what the Internet alone couldn't do -- turn retail, distribution, wholesaling and even manufacturing on its ear.
Mobile identification of products routing around the limitations of place and the entire world of retail. That's a powerful vision. Hopefully it will lead to good things.