Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Download it: Catalogue by TheFind

I got an iPad 2 for my birthday this year, and while it's something I wouldn't necessarily have bought for myself (I own both a Mac laptop and an iPhone already), I'm already completely addicted to it. It's great for its obvious uses--reading books, saving PDFs, checking email, RSS feeds, general Internet browsing--but I'm always up for discovering new and exciting apps, especially those that fill a need you didn't even know you had. For example, Flipboard takes all of your social media--Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and Google Reader--and turns it into a much more visually stimulating magazine-like experience. And speaking of magazines, a very interesting article yesterday in The Business of Fashion addressed this very issue (pun intended): Publishers had initially thought the iPad would be the savior of the magazine industry; in reality, iPad editions of magazine have been slow to sell, primarily due to price but also due to the fact that they're just digital reproductions of print media. Compare that to a totally interactive experience like Net-A-Porter's excellent magazine app, and traditional magazines look like, well, traditional magazines. Photos and video look amazing on the iPad, but the question is how to make print media (i.e. "cold" media) interactive, or "hot."

One company that's addressing this is TheFind, which, if you read this blog on a regular basis, you know that I have a relationship with (and that TheFind is Cheryl Shops' shopping search engine of choice!), although, it should be noted, I am writing about their app because it's awesome, not out of obligation. Instead of making their iPad app a rehash of their iPhone app (which, by the way, is pretty indispensable, due to its handy barcode scanner), TheFind came up with an entirely new way to shop, harnessing the iPad's unique visual capabilities with the ability to actually buy what you see. Basically, the app takes print catalogues from a bunch of retailers (there are 40 or so now, from J.Crew to Crate & Barrel, with more on the way) and distills them into a streamlined but visually cool browsing experience. (For some catalogues, you can toggle between the actual print version and TheFind's version; others are more of a simple lookbook experience.) You can browse by retailer, or by category (like "fragrances" or "women's boots"), and you can save anything you like--individual products, whole catalogues, or categories--to "My Catalogue". And perhaps most importantly, whenever you see something you like, you can buy it instantly without leaving the app. Of course, you can always do an old-school TheFind search (and save those products to My Catalogue as well), but, really, this app is made for browsing. It even drew a "cooooool" from MW, who normally shops only under duress. So if you have an iPad (and based on current trends, if you don't already, you will soon!), I highly recommend you download Catalogue and start using your iPad for what Steve Jobs intended: shopping!

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