Networks First launches free networking app for iPhone

Networks First has released an iPhone app which will enable users to look up key information on communications equipment within a matter of moments. The free app, called First Find, is available to download now from Apple’s App Store and is compatible with all versions of the iPhone, including the new iPhone 4.

Peter Titmus, chairman of Networks First, comments: “We developed First Find to provide users with a fast, simple and free method to gather information on IPT, data and security products. It doesn’t require any specialist equipment other than the phone itself, it is vendor-agnostic and incredibly simple to use. Traditional research methods include laboriously searching manufacturers’ web sites, but this is inconvenient and time consuming. We believe our innovative new app is the first of its kind.

“The idea was initially proposed by an employee who, frustrated by the time it took to do the necessary background research on a customer’s networking assets, wanted to enable customers to quickly find accurate networking information.”

First Find uses the iPhone’s camera to scan barcodes on networking equipment, or alternatively allows the user to perform a keyword search, immediately returning information such as end of life and service date status, typical UK list price, available software support, and whether the part is supported by the manufacturer’s TAC and software support schemes.

Instead of scanning a barcode, users can also choose to manually enter a product code, serial number, part name or manufacturer to search for information. If the phone has no wireless or data signal at the time of the search, the information will be temporarily held on the handset to be sent once signal strength returns.

First Find works by drawing on Networks First’s extensive parts database which contains around 750,000 searchable part codes and is constantly updated. Whilst First Find can be used by anyone, Networks First customers will also be able to quickly and simply register parts using the iPhone’s GPS capability to automatically relay the location of the part to Networks First and then on to the manufacturer. The app will also show whether or not a product is registered with the manufacturer.

Titmus hopes that with the help of manufacturers the scope of the app can be increased: “For now it’s a very neat way of receiving information but we think First Find could have even greater implications for the registration process. Gaining cooperation from the manufacturers would enable First Find to be used as a platform for quick and easy registration of any new parts for any user. All First Find users could then also use the app to check if certain parts are registered with the manufacturer. This would stop unscrupulous resellers charging registration fees and in fact not registering the equipment, which results in parts not being covered by legitimate software updates that may invalidate a manufacturer’s warranty. In addition the information could be used to expose counterfeit equipment.”

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