App offers easy Peeq at retail deals
The New York Times
EVERYBODY loves to hate e-mail. It eats up too much time. It's filled with junk.
I don't agree. E-mail is the hub of life. It's correspondence, collaboration, ideas, news, warnings and congratulations.
Sure, I try to keep the roar of junk mail to a minimum (I use a program called SpamSieve, and I never, ever enter my primary e-mail address into a form on the Web). But, otherwise, e-mail is a pretty great medium.
Maybe, instead of killing it off, the world should be working on making it more useful. A new, free app for the iPad and iPhone, called PeeqPeeq, is a good start. It works only with big-name IMAP-style e-mail accounts like Gmail, Yahoo Mail and AOL. Not Hotmail, not Exchange, not POP accounts.
And what it does is extremely clever. It analyses your mail, on a quest to identify promotional shopping messages. Not general spam - no herbal Viagra or Nigerian millionaires - but marketing stuff you've actually signed up for: clothing stores, airlines, department stores. These, it puts into a dedicated folder.
But that's behind the scenes. What the app does is convert the contents of that folder - all of the promotional e-mail - into a lovely, full-screen catalogue. Each message becomes an attractively designed, uniform "page", six of them per iPad screen.
You flip through them as you would the pages of an actual catalogue, tapping one to enlarge it if it piques your interest. You can bookmark one or send it on to friends by e-mail or text message.
Behind the scenes, the company (called RokketLaunch) has subscribed to every such promotional mailing under the sun. So within the app, you can also summon mini-catalogues of e-mailed offers you haven't subscribed to, in categories like Post Labor Day (sales), Clothing, Deals, Electronics & Gadgets and Sports.
Now, particularly if you're a guy, you might be aghast at the whole concept. It's an app that elevates junk mail?
And, yes, there's a difference between the way men and woman think about promotional shopping e-mail.
Mr Lee Ott, the company's founder, has done a lot of research. Women, he says, tend to look at this kind of e-mail as entertainment, during "I'm bored" moments: standing in line, waiting for an appointment. Men tend to check them, if at all, only when they're already on the way to the store to buy something, wondering if there's a discount.
In both cases, PeeqPeeq makes the job easier and more attractive. For example, you can search the company's entire stash of up-to-date offering messages to see if there's a sale somewhere on whatever it is you're about to buy.
That's one of the software's coolest features, actually. It performs character recognition on the images in these messages, so that it knows what they say.
Some store might send you an e-mail with a picture of a starburst that says, "40% off - ends tomorrow". You wouldn't find that text by searching within your e-mail program, but this app does.
In fact, the app conveniently puts diagonal banners across the corners of pages that announce time-limited offers.
You know, as a guy, I'm not sure I'd rely on PeeqPeeq to check for sales as I head out the door. I'm a huge devotee of RetailMeNot.com, which rounds up discount codes and sales for just about every online retailer in existence. I search that when I'm about to buy something: tickets, electronics, books, whatever.
But as much as I detest junk mail, I realise that many people deliberately subscribe to their favourite stores' mailing lists. If you're among them, then PeeqPeeq's presentation of each day's deals is certainly a better way to peruse them.