While online shopping has certainly changed the terms of “remote shopping” quite a bit, catalog shopping is still a huge market. I myself have digital versions of catalogs from a few hardware stores on my iPad as it’s simply much much easier to flip through pages like that rather than browse a online store. Google wants to take catalog shopping into the 21st century with a new iPad app called Google Catalogs, which is basically like an ereader app for catalogs.
There are quite a few features that make it worthwhile to use the app rather than the dead tree version of the catalog. You can click on any product in the catalog and get a product page like you’re used to with webshops, you can see where the closest store is, you can sometimes view videos of products, you can search for specific products, and you can create collages. The latter feature is basically a tool to create a “look at this”collage of product pictures, and is most useful for fashion related products (which is what the app has catalogs for at the moment anyways).
The downside is that the app is US-only. This indicates to me that Google wants more of a controlled environment with specific features available for all catalogs rather than opening it up to any company that has something as simple as a PDF file of their catalog. That limits its usefulness and makes it target more of a specific crowd,but I guess that’s fine as well.[iTunes | Google via Engadget]