[ZDNet] Fear your Web phone.

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From: Adam Rifkin -4K (adam@XeNT.ics.uci.edu)
Date: Wed Mar 22 2000 - 02:35:09 PST

Oh geez, now even Dvorak is talking about "click the phone and another
can of soda is sold":

Is the world ready for "...you are walking past a storefront and your cell
phone comes to life, giving you an alert about a sale going in within
the store that matches criteria that you established earier. You enter
the store and lo! there is the product you've been looking for for two
months. You take it to the counter. The cashier rings up the sale and
you confirm the purchase and transfer the money by pressing a code on
your cell phone..."? I guess we find out soon...

I wonder if Paypal is wishing they hadn't sold out so quickly.

> Fear your Web phone
> By John C. Dvorak, PC Magazine
> March 21, 2000 7:43 AM PT
> Something has been bothering me about the coming of Web-enabled
> telephones. People keep talking about how we'll all be surfing the
> Web on our phones -- and more often than we surf on our computers --
> but I still don't see it. I think such phones will be a convenience,
> but will they really be necessary? They will if they become
> replacements for credit cards. That's the dark future that nobody
> wants to talk about.
> By now you've heard about the soda machines in Finland that operate
> via cell phone. You dial the phone number of the soda machine, and it
> delivers a Coke. You pay for the soda on your phone bill. Everyone
> sees this as a silly example of Web phone use, but now I'm beginning
> to think that's exactly how Web phones will be used. But why should
> you even have to dial a number? That's what the wireless promise of
> Bluetooth is about. I've never thought much of the Bluetooth
> standard, but now I realize it's a scheme to force us to use
> Web-enabled phones to buy stuff, with the phone company acting as
> our new banker. The Bluetooth soda machine will send a signal to the
> phone, and the phone will send a signal back. Click the phone and
> another can of soda is sold.
> Visa is already trying to do deals with various phone companies in
> order to get a piece of the action. Banks will be trying to horn in too,
> since they can't get off their collective duff and implement smart cards
> overnight.
> Web phones actually have huge advantages over smart cards. For one
> thing, the mechanism is pro-active. No matter how powerful a smart
> card is, it can't send you a message or call you to tell you you're
> walking right past a "FABULOUS DEAL!" Just push the pound key
> and you'll get two ice cream cones for the price of one from the ice
> cream store you just passed. Oh wait, there's also a 10 percent
> discount on books at the store you're now approaching. Hit the pound
> key and your coupon will be handed to you as you enter. If you use
> your phone to make the purchase, you'll get another 5 percent off!
> Just hit the star key to confirm your purchase at the counter.
> OK, here's the future: You go in and grab your books. The
> Bluetooth-enabled cash register asks your phone if you want to pay
> directly and be billed on your phone bill. You confirm the sale and pay
> when the phone bill comes. How convenient. A miracle of technology.
> You can buy groceries this way. Gasoline. Cross the toll bridge. You
> name it, you can pay for it with your little Web phone. Is this what
> everyone has in mind? Remember, the phone companies, after all, laid
> down the elaborate telecommunications network for credit-card
> approval. Its efficiency is unmatched. Who needs smart cards when
> we have this infrastructure?
> Now flash forward to the day when the phone company is the
> collector--the muscle. Who can live without a phone? Even when
> people steal your calling card number and rip you off, you still pay,
> because you're afraid to be cut off. This is part of a long-term
> strategy. The phone companies would love to become conduits for all
> commerce. They can then punish any slow payers by cutting off their
> phones and then charging them a stiff reconnection once the tributes
> have been paid off. Finally, the perfect collection agency!
> Of course the public will be sold on the convenience of it all. Gee, one
> consolidated bill for everything from garbage pickup to car payments.
> And there are sure to be high-interest payment plans available, so
> people can go into debt to the phone company, too.
> Think of the future in these terms when people rave about Web
> appliances, Web-enabled phones, Java, Jini and the rest of it.


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