News Flash: Shopping by Cell Phone Works!

I was at the Interlude this afternoon eating a very tasty lunch and reading The New Yorker when I came across an advertisement for Better Than Sane: Tales from a Dangling Girl, described in part as: “[b]orn into a wealthy Palo Alto family, Rose, a depressed and isolated child, didn’t take a real job until age 40, when she became a receptionist at the New Yorker in the 1980s.”

As a sucker for the non-fiction sub-genre of “books about The New Yorker”, I was moved to make an impulse purchase.

On a lark, I pulled out my cell phone, searched “amazon” in the stock “Google: WAP” search on the phone’s little web browser, got connected to the “cell phone enabled website,” search for and ordered the book. In about 2 minutes.

I never understood why “one click ordering,”’s patented scheme for a sort of “instant checkout,” was all that useful. Now I do: having your billing and shipping addresses, and your credit card information on file at and attached to your username and password makes ordering by cell phone (and other devices yet to be invented) possible. Can you imagine trying to type in all that information using the phone’s keypad?

Very cool.


Al O'Neill's picture
Al O'Neill on July 18, 2004 - 03:28 Permalink

My favourite implementation of cell phone shopping is a little more immediate than that, a vending machine in Europe that has a phone number on it. When you dial that number, a can of coke drops out, and your phone bill gets the charge.