Is Apple Developing a Social Network for Shoppers?

It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Apple started to leverage their cult following to launch an Apple-specific social networking service. reports of a recent Apple patent application titled “Social Networking in Shopping Environments” that may hint at the future (or current) development of a network that connects shoppers. It was only a matter of time.

The report states that an in-store kiosk would give customers access to a product list and information that could then be shared on their phone. Do you like these shoes? What would match these pants? Users could send information to their friends who could then comment on the posts.

“The system could be as simple as proving friends the ability to give a “yes” or “no” answer, or a virtual “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” In one example a shopper asks their friends, “Should I buy this?” In another, a husband asks “Help, I need birthday gift ideas for my wife. Will she like this?””

– AppleInsider

On the flip-side, business could also use this information to gain feedback from customers – ranking products and services based on a traditional rating scale.

Apple asserts that customers enjoy shopping for clothing in a brick-and-mortar store with their friends but, the process of getting everyone coordinated can be annoyingly tiresome. Their application would allow for community discussions in one application where users can communicate and share easily without physically being present.

This would be the second application designed by Apple to stimulate sales. Their September launch of Ping for iTunes connected users with their favorite artists for updates and artist favorites and allowed users to share their favorite songs and concerts with their friends.

This (if followed through on) represents the consistent application of “social” into our physical lives. I wouldn’t be surprised this physical-digital convergence throughout other industries including on-menu ranking and reviewing systems in restaurants. Soon, everything we do and everywhere we go will be able to shared, liked, and commented upon – time will only tell if this will benefit or destroy us in the long run.

What do you think? Where will social apps like the one Apple proposed take us?  Do you want social interaction throughout your entire reality or will it erase all senses of privacy?

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