My first smart phone was a breath of fresh air! I stalled for years before buying my first smart phone because simply making calls and checking email on the go was not enough incentive to get rid of my trusty Motorola flip phone. I stuck with that flip phone for years while I saw BlackBerries sprouting up around me. Like you, I am as much a consumer as I am a professional. My email-enabled phone should also be able to run business apps, access the web like I was in my office, and play music so I can carry just one device, not two.

Last fall I bought an iPhone 3G and, despite a few Apple-esque quirks, it has exceeded my expectations, handily. Now I can rarely be separated from it. I’ve used its built-in GPS while traveling on business, streaming audio via Pandora to keep up on the news, and what impressed my wife (which in my case is the ultimate litmus test for technology) is that we were able to access shoppers’ ratings and reviews on products while we were standing in the aisles looking for gifts last Christmas. And I’m not alone. In October 2008, Apple announced they had sold 6.9M iPhones during the prior quarter, bringing the total to over 13M iPhones sold at that time. Those devices are in the hands of consumers, and they’re using it for research on products and services in real time. And those stats are just for the iPhone – nearly every phone sold now is a smart phone.

Since 2009 is undeniably the year of the mobile device, we are celebrating with our announcement of MobileVoice. Announced Monday in AdAge, MobileVoice is Bazaarvoice’s first mobile application that brings consumer word of mouth into stores to help customers make their purchase decisions. Simply put, when you’re standing in the store trying to decide which product to buy, MobileVoice is there to provide you user-generated ratings, reviews, and answers to your questions in real time.

If you’re a retailer, consider the power of giving shoppers in your stores access to product information, user reviews, and recommended accessories in the palm of their hands – on demand and tailored for their specific interest at the time. As a consumer, I can attest that it has helped me in several ways:

  • First, and most obviously, having word of mouth in the palm of my hand provides the much-needed perspective of people who have purchased the product, helping me to make a decision.
  • Secondly, it displays more manufacturer and retailer information products that what can possibly be displayed on a shelf or on the packaging. Access to specifications, warranties, features, and so on help me to make a more informed decision on the product.
  • Lastly, MobileVoice and mobile applications at large are beginning to solve the issue of in-store discovery. Who among us has not asked a Home Depot employee “do you know were _____ is?” It’s a common refrain in any store, anywhere. As for my holiday shopping, I needed to find a Dora The Explorer toy for my niece but I did not like any of the Dora toys I saw on the shelves in front of me. Using the integrated search capablity within MobileVoice, I was able to locate a Dora chair on the other side of the store with just one keyword. Luckily for that retailer, I bought that chair instead of going to another toy store.

MobileVoice is already being used by prominent retailers and suppliers nationwide. Sephora’s clientle can get access to nearly 100,000 reviews on cosmetic and beauty products while standing in the store. And taxpayers headed into Office Depot, Office Max, Wal-Mart, and Staples stores around the country access Intuit’s reviews to see what version of TurboTax and other software packages is right for them. Read the full MobileVoice press release for more details.

As a consumer I hope you enjoy getting ratings, reviews, answers and in-store discovery in the palm of your hands. This is just the beginning of the mobile commerce revolution.