IKEA's first iPhone app

Jon Karlsson

IKEA recently launched their first iPhone app – the 2010 IKEA catalog for the UK, available for free download from iTunes. Exciting, right? … well, not really.

What IKEA has done is basically scanned in the entire UK IKEA catalog – all 384 pages of it – and made it accessible from the iPhone. It basically consists of 3 different features:

  • Flicking through pages
  • Fast-flicking through the same pages using a thumbnail view
  • Pinch-zooming in the pages
    That’s it!

    All that I can say about it is; Wow, what a missed opportunity! IKEA, you could have done so many exciting, fun, explorative and sales-generating features and your choice was to just digitalize what you already publish in paper form?!

    IKEA, you look like you are in need of some inspiration. So here, absolutely free of charge, I give you (and ILVA, Mio, EM, Lutz, Home Depot, Sears and the rest of you) 4 ideas for your future iPhone apps.

    1. List what you show in a picture

    Sure, you show prices on some of the things that you display in you inspiring and beautiful room settings (kudos to you there!) – but I want you to show me a list of everything from your company that’s in the picture. How do you know I’m not interested in the paintings in the far end of the room? If you’ve got it – show it! You already do this (at least to some extent) on you webpage today. Just let me flip the image that I’m looking at around and give me a list (with pictures) of all items that are visible in the picture.

    2. A better serach function

    You didn't even include a serach function? Not even an interactive index so that I didn't manually have to flip to page 270 to watch that SNILLE swivel chair? Add a search function to help the user find what they are looking for in an easy way. And while you're at it, make it more attuned to their needs. Maybe I know the name of a product that I want, maybe the type of a product, maybe the color of a product, maybe the material of the product. Regardless – help me find what I’m looking for. Give me suggestive search, use synonyms to make the search more forgiving, suggest alternative search phrases if I get few or no results.

    3. Show products in a real context

    So you’ve helped me find a product, now show me all the fun and inspiring ways to use this in my home (you do this so well with your room setting pictures). So for every product that you have, let me access pictures, movies and information that you have in other places where that product also appears.

    But why stop there? How would the EKTORP sofa look in my living room? What can I put on this wall, and how would that look? It’s a phone application that you’re building – make use of the phones unique properties. Use the phones camera to provide the live background image and put the product that I’m looking at on top of that. That way I can see just how well that HALLARYD painting would look on the shady wall at our office. And just wait a few months or years and with all the fancy new augmented reality opportunities out there you’ll be able to scale your product in real time so that it fits perfectly into the image from my living room.

    4. Is the product available in my local Store?

    The iPhone has a GPS, so you know where the closes IKEA store is from my current position. Then you can also tell me if the product that I’m looking at is in stock there. Also show me where in that particular IKEA store that I can find the product (both on display and for me to take home). Also, give me the possibility to add the product to “My shopping list” if I so desire, that way I can easily access it when I arrive at the store.

    Shopping has never been this fun, or easy!

    And IKEA (and the rest of you) I’ve got 20 more ideas for you if you’re interested. Just give me a call and we can talk about them :)

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    4 kommentarer

    • Johan ML

      It doesn't feel very IKEA-ish to release something that bad. Just look at their viral marketing campaign when they launched the new store in Malmö: http://mashable.com/2009/11/25/facebook-marketing-ikeas-genius-use-of-photo-tagging/

      What I would like to see is an IKEA-app that uses augmented reality. Imagine walking around in your IKEA with your iPhone and "pointing" with the camera on stuff that you want and it automatically adds it to a list (instead of writing down 1 Billy book shelf @ aile 3 etc etc...) And when you get to the correct aile you can directly see in your iPhone where your package is located on the shelf.

      Just like having a treasure map :-P

      But this existing IKEA app looks like crap... You better shape up IKEA, this is not Ingvar Kamprad-standard!

      btw, good blog and I really like your third idea :-)

    • Johan ML

      Oops, I didn't read this blog before my first comment...


      I guess IKEA already are using AR :-)

    • Jon Karlsson

      Just found this blog post (http://freshome.com/2009/12/02/ikea-launches-catalogue-as-iphone-app/) apparently the app "... was developed by Cake Group and they are keen to point out that the app will improve and develop immediately after release ..."

      Regardless of this, I still think that it's bad to release this app in the shape that it is today. I'd probably uninstall it from my iPhone and then I'd miss the fun updates coming down the line.

      I think it would have been better to postpone the launch of the app and get some more interesting features in.

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