Archive | February, 2011

Shopping online without a computer

17 Feb

Several weeks ago, I wondered if it was possible to shop from a mobile device during those precious moments when I have a few minutes of downtime. In addition to the smartphone, which has real, but still mostly unmet potential as a shopping platform, I am also intrigued by the “tablet” – the handheld, wirelessly connected computer, of which Apple’s iPad is the best example today. I don’t own one, but I can’t help but think that the larger screen makes it a superior format for browsing images of online stores in greater detail. Every night, I sit idly in the bathroom for 15 minutes while my kids splash in the tub. Sometimes I check email on my smartphone, but by the end of the day I am ready to relax and put work aside. I find myself wishing I had a tablet on my lap so I can surf the web or look at my friend’s new photos on Facebook. So far, I have been unwilling to shell out $500 for yet another device which is at risk for being dropped in the toilet or stepped on by my toddler; but if this article is correct, we may have several less expensive options in the not-too-distant future.

iPad image by San Jose Mercury News

A tablet computer with a large touch-screen, connected to the Internet anywhere, could make online shopping easier for busy moms on the go.

Right now Apple’s iPad may own the market, but a slew of new devices running Google’s Android are reportedly coming soon – even though Apple has a considerable head start, it’s going to have to contend with competition from Google and Hewlett Packard that will bring prices down, which is good news no matter which device you choose. Time to start making your Christmas wish list for 2011!

And let’s not forget about the smartphone, which seems to be getting smarter all the time, thanks to higher processing power and an expanded data capacity on mobile networks which is being called “4G”. It’s prettier too – screens are getting larger and more detailed.  The phone’s capabilities are increasing as more applications are being written to run on mobile platforms. That means web surfing is getting faster and easier every day.  Call me a technophile, or maybe just an optimist, but I believe a large part of my online shopping for Christmas 2011 is going to happen on a smartphone.

That means I better hurry up and decide between the iPhone, finally available on Verizon’s mobile network, and a phone running Google’s Android OS. I am not even considering the also-rans Palm and Microsoft, which have dramatically lost market share to Apple and Google over the past year, to the point where it’s hard to imagine they can ever catch up.  But why should I care, as long as the products left standing make it possible to buy a pair of pants on sale while waiting for my kids to get out of class?  We moms and nannies are already standing in the school hallways and the grocery checkout lines reading emails and text messages. We may as well browse an online jeans sale every now and then.

Being permanently connected to the Internet may not be what the world needs more of, but personally, I would rather have more options of when and how to connect, rather than less.

The Very Lonely Firefly book by Eric Carle

I couldn't find replacement batteries for this light-up book at any of my local drugstores, so I finally ordered them on Amazon.

I am sure the citizens of Egypt would agree – I am lucky that my online to-do list contains buying replacement batteries for board books that light up, and not organizing the downfall of a dictatorial government using Twitter and Facebook. Believe me, I appreciate that more than most people around here – my parents (and I briefly, too) lived under communism in Eastern Europe before the iron curtain fell. The Internet certainly has many more politically and socially significant powers than delivering me the perfect pair of boots from Zappos. But after the television coverage shifts from the jubilation in Egypt’s Tahrir square to yet another Republican-Democrat dogfight about how to reduce the national debt, I can’t help but turn to my own private affairs – and that’s how I get to After all, what woman doesn’t have some kind of private love affair with shoes?

But that’s a subject for another post.

Tahrir Square on the eve of Mubarak's resignation, photo by NYT

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