Startup Spotlight: WAP 'til you drop with DigitalRUM

No, it's not an alcoholic drink - it's trying to bring the world of shopping to WAP

Finally a WAP service that's useful? That's what DigitalRUM promises, anyway, with its m-commerce service launching 1 September. Like, the service will let you comparison-shop via your mobile phone, but promises a wider range of items -- not just books and CDs.

DigitalRUM also works over WAP, not SMS, though whether that is a benefit or not is debatable.

Both Scan and DigitalRUM use barcodes -- you type the number into the system and it comes back with prices from various e-tailers, giving you the option to buy.

Why shy away from SMS? "Research indicates that the SMS consumer experience is not a good one," says DigitalRUM founder Johan van de Steen.

Oh, and people are happy with WAP? Possibly not, van de Steen admits, but it's early days.

The DigitalRUM application claims to be tailored specifically for WAP phones, unlike some WAP applications, which seem to try to fit entire Web sites onto a mobile phone screen. Despite WAP's negative press, van de Steen is convinced that a turnaround is on the way. "With WAP we have seen a chicken and the egg problem -- there are currently no applications on the market that bring this product to people. I haven't yet found a WAP service that I would use," he says.

Interesting idea, but DigitalRUM will have a lot of boundaries to break through before it can appeal to the mass market.

The service:

What it does: compares prices of brand-name goods through WAP technology

How it works: you send the product's barcode from your WAP phone and it sends you the prices, with the option to buy on the spot

Who it's for: the chosen few who have figured out how to use their WAP phone...

What you can find there: "Every-day products" -- they'll tell us what on 1 September

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