Is Digital Shoplifting Really A Problem?

from the why-would-you-trust-these-people? dept

It’s amazing how certain (usually) well-respected analyst firms seem to have their critical thinking facilities disappear when it comes to the issue of camera phones. First we had Jack Gold from META Group telling people that all camera phones should be banned outright, because he (as a wireless analyst of all things) couldn’t understand how they might be useful. Now, we’ve got Jason Juma-Ross, an analyst with AMR Interactive, picking up on the ridiculous story from Japan last year about magazine and book publishers freaking out about “digital shoplifting”. So, Juma-Ross is now warning retailers that they need to deal with the “emerging problem” of digital shoplifting. That assumes, first of all, that it’s really a “problem”. As we wrote when the story came out last year, the worries about digital shoplifting seem quite overblown. Already, you can go into a store and browse through books and magazines. Are people really going to stop buying these books and magazines because they can snap a picture of them? It’s not as if someone is going in there with a high speed copier/printing press and making full-on copies. All people will get are a small number of low quality images of the magazine or book that they never intended to buy in the first place. If I ran a bookstore, I’d encourage people to use their camera phones to take pictures of things. It would help get them in the store, where I could try to sell them things that they want now. In fact, I’d probably try to add in additional features like letting users “scan” bar codes with their camera phones to get more information – with the hope that it leads to additional purchases. People need to learn to embrace, and not fear, new technologies like camera phones.

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