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The New York Times reports that Consumer Reports has created an iPhone application that “provides the magazine’s ratings and reviews on more than 3,000 products, like home appliances, electronics, car accessories and power tools. The app also provides more basic information, including price and user reviews, on about 17,000 products.

“The app’s main feature is a scanner that allows shoppers to take a photo of an item’s bar code with their iPhones and learn what Consumer Reports has said about that product.

“When the app is able to match the bar code to its database, shoppers can find the Consumer Reports ‘Ratings Report Card,’ which gives an overview of the product’s strengths and weaknesses and lists its performance in a number of categories. If the app does not find an exact match to a bar code, it will list ratings for similar products.”

The application costs $14.99, which is high for an app sold via iTunes. But, as the Times notes, Consumer Reports “more than most magazines has been able to command a premium for its online content,” and “is betting that its loyal readers will pay as much to gain access to its vast library of product reviews from their mobile phones.”
KC's View:
This is huge, in my view. And it speaks to the level of transparency of the modern marketplace.

There is no more trusted objective consumer perspective than that of Consumer Reports. For all that information to be available at my fingertips anytime I am going shopping for virtually anything is an enormous asset, and $14.99 seems like a bargain ... especially because I know that the magazine doesn’t accept any advertising, which is a way of staying objective.