Falling flat

Google Shopper 1.0 is a thin showing from a company with so much to offer mobile consumers.

Like the love child of Barcode Scanner and Google Goggles, Google's new Shopper app for Android uses the smartphone's camera to list deals and steals. Unfortunately, underutilization of Google's vast resources keeps the app from helping you actually convert a listing into a purchase.

When you scan a barcode, or CD, DVD, book, or video game cover or speak or type a search, Google Shopper sources price comparisons (in U.S. currency only) from online stores and large chains like Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Target. The app lets you star favorites and share them online or via e-mail, and it winningly saves a history of your selections for offline referencing. And then it stops.

Unlike other shopping and barcode-scanning competitors for Android, like ShopSavvy, Shopper does not point out local sources of the item, essentially abandoning you in your quest of acquisition. It would be so easy for Google to drop in its excellent map and reliable directions engine. And why isn't Google Shopper using the Android phone's built-in GPS to help determine where you are and which brick-and-mortar stores lurk nearby? The app should--at the very least--sort results from cheapest to priciest, add various other sorting filters, and hyperlink to online stores so you can suss out the competition yourself, or even attempt to buy online right then and there. We know that Google Shopper is in its early stages, but it's a thin showing from a company with so much to offer mobile consumers.

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