Another case of Amazon envy from Rakuten, Japan’s biggest online shopping “mall”? It seems so.
According to various reports, Rakuten is currently pondering the development of a barcode scanner. One of the reason for Rakuten to get into the hardware business – according to a company representative quoted by The Nikkei (“Japan’s Wall Street Journal”) – is that “Amazon has the Kindle, and Apple has the iPhone”.
That’s a quite interesting view on things. The device, if it really comes out, will scan bar codes printed on products to automatically find the lowest price on Rakuten’s gigantic site for the item in question (after connecting it to a computer, obviously). That means the reader, which will be the first piece of hardware manufactured by Rakuten itself, won’t be usable anywhere else.
Rakuten says it sees the device being used mainly for products people use on a daily basis, for example tissues and such. A first test run for the reader with 1,000 Rakuten members is scheduled to begin this fall. The company aims at making the reader as compact and cheap as possible (even distributing the device for free is apparently under discussion).
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