The New Mobile Madness for Wine Lovers

Courtesy of Hahn

The Wine industry is on the verge of a major marketing shift as mobile wireless devices offer enhanced ability to send and receive data making marketing, selling, tracking, and packing a less laborious process. Here’s where wine and technology meet. The door of opportunity is wide open for an endless supply of apps that make the marketing, supply chain, inventory, data collection, and order fulfillment more economically possible.  Even more importantly, bridging the gap between sampling and buying may get a whole lot easier for the average wine enthusiast.

Wine apps are currently available in the mainstream marketplace. What is yet to come is a better ability to connect with bottles, labels, and interact with the product and supply chain. Just picture yourself enjoying a new wine at a restaurant. You love the ‘2010’ Cabernet and want to order a case for your wine cellar. So, you hold your phone close to the wine label, and zing! Up pops a tantalizing description of your wine with links to ratings and ordering information. All you need to do is enter “yes” to the “order now?” prompt. Undoubtedly, there are some complexities like individual state laws, but where there is complexity, there is also opportunity and an “app for that”. Well, pretty soon, you might be in luck because if all goes well, RFID/NFC enabled cell phones are likely to open up a whole new avenue of shopping.

Ok, just on the off-chance you haven’t heard of Radio Frequency Identification or better known as RFID, it’s basically a little radio signal chip that gets embedded into a label, money, credit cards or whatever the object and transmits a signal to a reader. Of course, right now, RFID works best in situations where the object has the right proximity to the reader. Quite intentionally — because you don’t want the object you are connecting with to be confused with other tagged objects. However, RFID has shortcomings since applications are beginning to be more precise as the tagged object is further and further from the reader, such as driving your entire grocery cart through a scanner. Near Field Communications (NFC), a subset of RFID which works with closer objects (about 4 inches or less), has become a more preferred standard and may supplant many other short range data transmission options. Future cell phone generations equipped with RFID/NFC readers will have some major uses for marketers. Thus far, the RFID industry has been a bit sluggish — stalled by privacy issues, costs, trying to get better scans of the target, and mitigating signal interference issues. The recreational uses present a new frontier for marketers looking for innovative ways of breaking through all of the messaging noise to sell their products. Future iPhone generations are supposedly planned to be equipped with NFC readers. Imagine all those new apps! According to the NFC Forum, Near Field Communication (NFC) technology provides global interoperability of contactless identification and interconnection technologies. NFC operates in the 13.56 MHz frequency range, over a typical distance of a few centimeters. The underlying technology is based upon common technology standards supported by global communication device manufacturers and network operators with the intention of being compatible with hundreds of millions of cards and readers already deployed globally. There are many mobile phones already on the market sporting NFC technologies today with more coming online. Given the significant bash made by QR (Quick Response) codes, those ugly little imprints used by airlines and websites for transmitting data, many assumed QR would steal the show for some time. However, QR requires image capture, which is often awkward and a bit tricky. Mobile phone manufacturers like HTC, Lenovo, Huawei, Samsung, ZTE, Nokia, Motorola, and Apple have either announced or rumored roll out plans for NFC in upcoming generations of handsets. However, it is more likely that NFC and its successors will come out on top. The next decade holds an unprecedented roll out of device on device interaction that is sure to keep wireless networks humming and you and I wondering if we’re going to get radiated in the process as we’re caught in the cross fire.  At least if we do, we’ll do it over a good glass of cab. TD

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