Buddies for life…I think

Last week, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) users logged on to discover a new friend – er, Buddy. “ShoppingBuddy” is a new AIMbot that you can “converse” with to get help finding products, mostly from The Gap. Wanting to avoid the Day-After-Thanksgiving crowds, I decided to take ShoppingBuddy for a test drive:

Straightupsearch: Hi ShoppingBuddy, how are you today?
ShoppingBuddy: Hello again. 😉
Straightupsearch: My, aren’t you coy? So, what should I get my mom for Christmas?
ShoppingBuddy:

– Search results for mom
– Netgear Switch [$65.00 – $99.99]
– Linksys EtherFast 10/100 Switch [$19.95 – $38.38]
– D-Link Micro USB Hub [$11.00 – $38.38]

Straightupsearch: An Ethernet switch? Really? I was thinking more along the lines of some nice gloves…
ShoppingBuddy: I didn’t find any good matches 4 U but may I ask you a question?
Straightupsearch: sure
ShoppingBuddy: OK, who R U shopping for today?
Learn how to make your gift even more special at gap.com

Straightupsearch: My mom is really more of a Talbot’s kind of lady. Ok, what should I get my little brother?
ShoppingBuddy: good
Straightupsearch: Most of the time he is, I guess.
ShoppingBuddy: Indeed
Straightupsearch: Anyway, he likes Godzilla collectibles.
ShoppingBuddy: OK, I’m searching for matches 4 U. Gimme a sec…
ShoppingBuddy:

– Search results for Anyway likes Godzilla collectibles
– I Love Lucy Mug All About You [$12.95]

Straightupsearch: Are you saying that Lucille Ball is a monster?!
Straightupsearch: OK, last try. What should I get my boss?
ShoppingBuddy: k
Straightupsearch: K is worth 5 points in Scrabble
ShoppingBuddy: OK, I’m searching for matches 4 U. Gimme a sec…
ShoppingBuddy):

– Search results for worth 5 points Scrabble
– Scrabble Cuff Links at RedEnvelop [$75.00]

Straightupsearch: Scrabble Cuff Links – perfect! How did you know? Thanks, ShoppingBuddy!

IMO (in my opinion), IMO (Instant Messenger Optimization) is probably not the next frontier, unless the AI gets a lot better. ShoppingBuddy also gets its results from AOL Shopping, which is not the most comprehensive index of products and information. I got much better results by using AOL Search and using the same “search terms”.

ShoppingBuddy is certainly trying to endear itself to the kids though, with all the “you”=”U”, “are”=”R”, and “for”=”4” IM shorthand. Maybe I should ask ShoppingBuddy if he knows where I can buy “Hooked on Phonics”.