If you’re raiding American retail temples like Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target in the early morning hours of Black Friday 2009, you’ll probably be packing a thermos of hot coffee, a thick jacket and a shopping list.
Your best ally, though, is your iPhone, Blackberry or Droid. Here are the three mobile applications that could be shopping game-changers on Black Friday.
Best use: Planning purposes.
All of the Black Friday deals in one convenient, searchable package. Go to your favorite retailer's Black Friday specials, browse items by category or search for a particular product with this handy app. When you’ve found what you like, add it to your shopping list and then delete items as you conquer them.
Similar: DealNews’ Black Friday app.
2. Occipital RedLaser
Best Use: In-the-fray price comparison.
Want to know what other retailers are charging for a particular item? Unleash the RedLaser on the barcode of the item at hand (or, failing that, enter it manually) and let Occipital scan the Internet for the same product. When you don’t have time to shuffle through deal aggregator apps like DealNews and TGIBlackFriday, use this to get price information quickly.
Similar: If you don’t want to fork over the $1.99, the pic2shop app is a free but more pedestrian alternative. If you’re an Amazon devotee, download the Amazon.com app featuring a service that allows you to take a picture of a given item to be stored for later. The app even tries to figure out what item you’ve photographed with decent results on straightforward products like books and yeoman’s work on generic items like computer monitors, often suggesting a comparable product.
Best Use: Standing in line, evaluating your next move.
Most of the large retailers – Wal-Mart, Sears, Toys R Us, for example – all pack iPhone apps with a single cool feature. Wal-Mart’s app, for example, allows user to size up the final resting place for a potential television by allowing the user to take or import a picture of the space the screen will eventually fill. When the shopper alters the dimensions of a box imposed by the app on the photo, televisions that fit the space appear at the bottom of the screen.
Standing largely alone with several neat features is Target. The Target app allows you to lock in your local store, connect with gift registries as well as breaking down gifts into useful categories from toys by recipients’ age to an entire category devoted to Twilight. Being able to choose a local store helps check inventory levels, making sure you won’t be disappointed at the door. For those searching for the perfect gift, the app’s Gift Finder lets users search by age group and “personality,” with categories like “corporate diva” and “miss outdoorsy” for women and “gadget guru” and “doting grandpa” for men.