RedLaser is a mobile social media application driving business products to consumers and other businesses. The basic premise of RedLaser is to allow a user to scan a product’s bar code and instantly receive pricing and availability information that the application pulls from its database. The app works best when you allow it to use your GPS location so it can find retail establishments near your current location. The app was acquired by eBay in 2010 from Occipital and according to the app’s website has over 15 million downloads to date.
I downloaded the app for the purpose of writing this blog, and I have used it a few times this week with great success! It is easy to use and simple to understand, and provides a real benefit to users: information on where to buy products and how much it will cost at each place. The app provides results of both retail locations and online sites, which is helpful when deciding where to buy products. The app is most useful for consumers, but I can see how small businesses may be able to take advantage of price checking for purchases like office supplies and other consumer goods. For example, contractors could use it to quickly find the cheapest and/or closest place to purchase tools, supplies, and replacement parts when working on a job. I live in a condo association, and can envision our maintenance committee using RedLaser to find the cheapest place to purchase common replacement items like light bulbs, vacuum bags, and ice melt. We could use the app to put together a list of local (or online) places and prices so that when we need to purchase a certain type of light bulb, for example, the maintenance person knows where to go to get it. The committee would spend a little time up front to document this, and perhaps check in semi-annually to update pricing and locations, but it is a lot easier than driving around to local stores and browsing dozens of websites, and will certainly save the association money!
RedLaser also scans and creates QR codes. For some great information on QR codes, please visit my classmate Lisa’s blog. The RedLaser website makes it sound simple to create a QR code, so I tried it out. It was! I created the QR code below for this blog. So if you are reading this on a computer and have a smart phone nearby, download the free RedLaser app, scan the code below, and you can view the blog on your phone!
I went in search of reviews, and found that most were positive, but some do not find the app as functional as they would hope. IPhoneBlogr reports great success with the app and gives it 4 out of 5 stars in its review. On the other hand, reviewer John Gaarde reports it to be the best bar code scanning app available, but writes that there is some functionality lacking; he is especially frustrated when the app does not tell you if the scan is working or not. The current version has 479 ratings averaging 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Apple iTunes store. Have you used RedLaser? If you have, I’d love to have your review in the comment section below.
Overall, the RedLaser app has enjoyed great success as demonstrated by its mostly positive reviews described above. Success can also be measured by the number of downloads. In March of 2011, blogger Leena Roa wrote that there have been 9 million downloads of RedLaser and the current RedLaser website indicates 15 million downloads to date. In less than a year, the number of downloads has nearly doubled!
There are other bar code scanning apps available, including ShopSavvy. According to ShopSavvy’s blog, it has been downloaded over 16 million times, which is higher than RedLaser. The App Store’s rating for iPhone is 4.5 stars based on 6485 ratings. See my classmate Kara’s great blog on ShopSavvy. Another competitor I found through the App Store is barcodescan which has a rating of 2 stars out of 5 with 5890 ratings. Bakodo is the other competitor I found with substantial ratings, and it had an average of 4 out of 5 stars over 642 ratings. All these apps are free. Overall, ShopSavvy seems to be RedLaser’s largest and most successful competitor, and RedLaser would ensure future success by making sure it keeps up with improvements that ShopSavvy and other competitors are creating. Have you used any of these competitor apps? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comment section below if you have!
A final measure of success is Apple’s featuring of the app in its 2010 iPhone commercial. The fact that Apple wanted to feature RedLaser in a commercial shows its widespread success!
I think that bar code scanning applications will help make comparison shopping easier and will be beneficial to consumers because it will make pricing more transparent. What do you think? Would you ever use an app like RedLaser to comparison shop online? If you already do, please share an experience. If you do not, are you inspired by this blog to download an app? I look forward to hearing for you!
Bakodo. (2010). Retrieved from http://bako.do/
Barcodescan. (2012). Features. Retrieved from http://www.barcodescanapp.com/?page_id=65
Bouchard, K. (18 February 2012). Bouchard: Blog Post 3. Retrieved from http://kbouch19.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/bouchard-blog-post-three/
Gaarde, J. (2011). RedLaser Review [Windows Phone]. Retrieved from http://www.knowyourmobile.com/smartphones/smartphoneapps/windowsphone7applications/1190556/redlaser_review_windows_phone.html
iPhone commercial with ProductWiki Good Quality [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFdjXzvBgCE
iphoneblogr. (1 April 2011). App review: RedLaser [app store] – barcode scanner. Retrieved from http://iphoneblogr.com/2011/04/redlaser-review/
iTunes. (30 January 2012). RedLaser bar code scanner and QR code reader. Retrieved from http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/redlaser-barcode-scanner-qr/id474902001?mt=8
Rao, L. (14 March 2011). eBay’s barcode scanning app RedLaser nearing nine million downloads. Retrieved from http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/14/ebays-barcode-scanning-app-redlaser-nearing-nine-million-downloads/
RedLaser. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.redlaser.com
ShopSavvy. (April 2012). ShopSavvy is mobile shopping assistant for nearly 12 % of smartphone users. Retrieved from http://shopsavvy.mobi/2011/04/11/shopsavvy-is-mobile-shopping-assistant-for-nearly-12-of-smartphone-users/