Mobile Comparison Shopping

I've been out and about doing Xmas shopping (more gawking than shopping, but out and about nevertheless), and decided to have a bit of fun with Opera Mini.

I bookmarked a number of retailer pages (FNAC, Vobis, Worten and Amazon UK), and tried to do on-the-spot price comparisons across them (Froogle isn't any use for us here in Portugal), with some interesting results:

  • First off, prices were wildly different (there wasn't a consistently cheap retailer, they were all better in different segments).
  • Amazon UK still managed to come out ahead in one item or another despite the UK's inflated sterling prices.
  • Only the FNAC and Amazon UK sites were usable in Opera Mini (i.e., search worked, I could see detailed info on the items, etc.). Amazon UK was vastly more usable, however, and I got the feeling that the markup degraded far more gracefully.
  • Both the Vobis and Worten were miserable failures - searches on both sites gave zero results - or error messages - so I had to try to use their miserably crafted navigation bars.

In the end, I gave up comparing across all of them and just stuck to FNAC and Amazon UK - guess who I will eventually end up buying some stuff from.

Now, considering that we're still in the Stone Age where it concerns this sort of service and that I was moderately fair to all of them by not using WAP (or my V600i's XHTML browser), it's still disheartening - you'd expect all of these people to have usable sites by now, but no - they just pour on the JavaScript and keep using IE-specific tags.

But hey, that's the Portuguese web for you - virtually no understanding of the fundamentals (ever since our dial-up days), lousy site designs, and zero acknowledgment of the fact that mobile phone penetration in Portugal is over 104%.

Yes, that's 104% - we're sort of like an Iberian Finland, but without clever retailers and knowledgeable web designers.

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