We certainly could have used a service like this before experiencing a personal dose of "Black Friday" hell this year. Rather than flip through page after page of newspaper inserts and retailer Web sites, and then gamble on whether the items are really in stock as promised, we would have much preferred the kind of one-stop shopping that iTrackr claims to provide.
The Florida-based company says it monitors the inventory of 8,578 Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, EB Games, Sears and Target stores across the country. Based on your zip code--and a $1.99 fee--iTrack promises to constantly check local stores for a designated item for 30 days, alerting you by SMS or e-mail as soon as it comes in.
"The beauty of iTrackr is its simplicity," said Jarem Archer, creator of the site's technology. "All you have to do is pick which products you're looking for and iTrackr will track it for you. Once iTrackr finds it, you'll be notified immediately on your mobile phone. It's as simple as it gets."
Sounds great, but a couple of things immediately come to mind: A service like this begs for a community component that would allow consumers to share their own tips on deals and even post their own product reviews. That, in turn, could make iTrackr truly local by encompassing regional chains if not popular mom-and-pop stores (if any exist anymore).
Still, we laud iTrackr for the effort, and we frankly wonder why services like this haven't started long ago. After all, for years the technology industry has been talking about linking inventory databases and allowing new services that would help consumers as well as themselves.
But as we all know, the more something seems obvious, the longer it takes to get it done.