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Friday Tech Blitz: Apple Sees “Sense”… The “Holy Grail” Shopping App This Holiday Season

You didn’t think Apple (AAPL) would let its foes hog the spotlight for long, did you?

After months of anticipation, Sony (SNE) and Microsoft (MSFT) are finally launching their new gaming consoles – the PS4 and XBox One, respectively.

But Apple quietly made some news itself this week, agreeing a deal to buy Israeli firm, PrimeSense for $345 million.

Interestingly, PrimeSense provided the 3-D sensors for the first version of Microsoft’s motion-sensing technology, Kinect.

So while Sony and Microsoft are busy launching much-hyped new consoles, a deal like this signals Apple’s intent to invade the motion-sensing space, too.

There’s a precedent for this kind of thing with Apple. When we discussed the potential for a biometric iPhone earlier this year, we pointed to Apple’s strategy of acquiring key biometric companies and patents.

Lo and behold… Apple’s iPhone 5S has a fingerprint scanner.

Similarly, Apple has dipped into Israel before, too. In 2012, it bought Anobit for $390 million – a firm whose key solid-state technology is used in Apple smartphones, tablets and computers.

So what could this Israeli acquisition with PrimeSense mean?

Well, right off the bat, PrimeSense boasts a successful track record. Its technology is already used in 24 million devices and Apple could now employ it in a number of ways.

For example, gesture control could be added to Apple’s range of smartphones and tablets. Or it could be used with Apple TV – essentially using the body as a remote control.

The “Holy Grail” Shopping App This Holiday Season

When you think of Thanksgiving, some key traditions spring to mind…

Family, food, football – and fighting!

I’m referring, of course, to the annual slugfest at stores across the country, as crazy-eyed consumers battle for the latest items.

I don’t know about you, but it’s disturbing to see many major retailers opening their doors all day on Thursday this year. Can’t we just have one day away from mass consumerism and chasing dollars?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but I’m glad I won’t be around to see this year’s shopping madness, as I’m heading to Iceland next Wednesday. However, if you plan to hit the stores, you might want to consider this free app…

Just launched in the United States, Retale basically compiles all the weekly advertising circulars and sales flyers that you find in newspapers and stuffed into your mailbox and turns them into a digital format.

Score another point for the digital world at the expense of old-school print media.

And Retale has spotted a sliver in the market. While glossy circulars are still effective, as newspaper circulation continues to fall, they’re not as effective these days. Would-be buyers are arguably more likely to dump paper ads in the trash than read them. (Including this guy!)

As the saying goes, “Advertising follows eyeballs” – and these days, more eyeballs are going online.

Retale knows this. Christian Gaiser, CEO of Bonial International, the developer behind the app, says, “Circulars can still drive sales; the only thing that’s changed is the distribution model.”

And Retale distributes retailers’ sales and promotions by compiling them and housing them in one handy app. Retailers pay each time one of their circulars/ads is opened on the app.

In keeping with the targeted nature of web advertising, Retale filters ads by a user’s location and alerts him/her to any new deals and product offerings. The app’s goal isn’t to make a sale, though… it’s to achieve the same thing as a regular circular – persuade the reader to visit the physical store to act on the deals.

Retale initially launched five years ago in Germany. Bonial is part of Germany’s Axel Springer Verlag, the publisher that owns the country’s largest newspaper, Bild. Helped by $67 million in funding, 12 million people in Germany, France, Spain, Brazil and Russia have downloaded the app.

The $70 million in funding has led to 12 million Retale downloads in the five years since it launched, with five million Germans using the alert feature.

Gaiser claims Retale is the “Holy Grail for retailers.” Retailers sure hope so. With giants like Macy’s (M) and Toys R Us onboard with Retale, it’s a new way to get eyeballs on ads… and then in stores.

So there you go. Get shopping!

Enjoy the weekend,

Martin Denholm

Martin Denholm

, Managing Editor

View More By Martin Denholm