On-The-Go Mobile Coupons: Almost As Cool As Minority Report. Not Quite As Creepy.

Screen shot 2009-11-05 at 4.24.15 PMIn the Steven Spielberg movie Minority Report (yes, I make some reference to it about once a week), there’s a scene in which John Anderton (Tom Cruise’s character) is walking through an urban retail center and his eyes are getting scanned as he moves, which is serving up custom greetings and deals from retailers. It’s both creepy and cool. But that movie is set in 2054, we’re not there yet. But AT&T had a demo at its Tech Showcase today that is inching closer to that.

As you can see in the video below, the idea behind AT&T’s system is that you can walk around a city with a phone in your pocket and get alerted when a nearby retailer has a deal for you. Users of Foursquare and soon Loopt will recognize this concept, but AT&T’s idea is a bit different. By using AT&T’s network as the bridge to be constantly updating your location (assuming, of course, you opt-in to such a feature), these retailers are able to push these coupons to your phone via SMS. Currently, something like Foursquare requires that you “check-in” to a place to see that there is a deal there or nearby.

Naturally, this could get very annoying to a consumer if they don’t like the place offering the deal, but customization is the key to this. A user could, for example, say they like Mexican food, and those types of coupons would pop-up when they were in the vicinity.

Obviously, a system like this could be very lucrative for retailers and restaurants who want to entice the impulse buy or just increased foot traffic in stores. It could also be lucrative for AT&T if they were to strike deal with these retailers to serve these up — or even just charge SMS fees.

This is just a proof of concept at this point, but you can probably bet something like this is coming soon. And the next logical step after that is the Minority Report system. “John Anderton, you could use a Guinness right about now!

[image: Dreamworks & 20th Century Fox]