It's been a while since I promoted a Google product or service on my personal blog - so here goes .... Ans while this is something that may not be launched as a perfectly useful tool -- it is very exciting to foresee the future benefits. (Plus - given that I've focused on retailers since I've been at Google - and have been talking to them about this for such a long time - it's increasingly cool to me, personally)
Anyway - today - Google launched the ability to see local product availability at a number of beta retail partners (like Sears, Best Buy, and Pottery Barn/Williams-Sonoma/West Elm) on smart phones.
So - as this blog post says, if you go to shopping.google.com on your i-Phone/Android device/etc you should be able to see if that 42-inch plasma or the canon elf in the color you want is a available at your local Best Buy.
I have a bunch of sporting goods clients and so I think a useful example is with sneakers. I know I'm a size 12 Nike, but I also know that shoes/sneakers are sometimes just something that you need to see in person or try on .... So .... How useful would it be to know that the basketball sneaker in the color I want (because I researched online) is actually in stock in my size at the store 7 blocks away (rather than going there and rolling the dice). Come se dice en Espanol .... "Time Saver!"
Again - it's very much a "beta Google product" - but assuming retailers are brave enough to invest in "what's next" and share their local inventory data with Google .... This could be a very very useful consumer advance in retail shopping....