Apple's upstart digital social networking platform dubbed Ping may soon manifest outside of our computer screens and inside of our nearest brick-and-mortar retail outlets and shopping malls. How would it work exactly? Well, for the time being, even Apple may not have the full picture of how this concept will play out. But thanks to a little investigative work by our friends at Apple Insider, we know this much: Apple is tinkering with the prospect of expanding Ping's reach into the physical realm of retail.
Behind the idea is a new patent, the application for which was just released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent application - known as "Social Networking in Shopping Environments" - foreshadows a time where shoppers with a mobile gadget like the iPhone or iPod touch can network with other shoppers while engaged in the act of shopping.
In a store, a kiosk would allow customers to access a product list and information on their phone. That product and the details about it could then be shared through Apple's social networking tool. In one example, a user can identify items of interest and share information directly to mobile devices of their friends. From there, friends can review the products and provide their own comments and feedback.