September 23, 2004

Thanks to Linux, this beer's for you!

Author: Tina Gasperson

Want to send your best buddy, boss, or promising client a drink "on you" via your wireless phone? You can, if your friend lives in London. Eagle Eye Solutions, based in the United Kingdom, is launching a new service today called Buymeabeer.com using a Linux-based server platform.It's a simple concept -- so simple, one wonders why no one else has implemented the idea until now. Visit the Buymeabeer.com Web site, select the drink you want to send, then enter your friend's mobile phone number and your credit card number. Buymeabeer.com sends a text message voucher to the recipient, who then brings the phone to any Corney & Barrow bar and "redeems" the text message for the pre-paid drink.

Steve Rothwell, the director of Eagle Eye Solutions, said Linux was the logical choice to run the critical Web servers for Buymeabeer.com. "Linux is one of the most stable platforms there is," he said. Not only that, but the low cost to install, run, and maintain Linux was a large part of what made Linux the most desirable option for Eagle Eye.

Rothwell said the company expects to receive anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 hits per day once the service is established. They're running two full-fledged servers now, with two backup servers in the wings should the need arise.

Patrons can choose from any of 14 different drink selections at the Buymeabeer.com site, ranging from a bottle of Kirin beer for £3, all the way up to a bottle of Dom Perignon for £110. Each transaction carries a £1 handling fee.

Eagle Eye was created specifically to mastermind the Buymeabeer.com project, which Rothwell hopes will be the first of many text voucher services for the company.
Rothwell said Eagle Eye Solutions is planning to roll out the Buymeabeer.com concept to the U.S. in as little as six months. The company is also working on offering a full range of text message services, including flower delivery, "buy me a cup of coffee," and ticket purchasing.

Rothwell said that as far as he knows, Eagle Eye is the first company to offer text message vouchers on a large scale, but they have been tried elsewhere. The Belfast Film Festival in Ireland offers patrons the opportunity to secure reservations via text message, and Finnair allows its frequent flyer passengers to check in for flights via text messages. Passengers receive a return text message specifying flight details, and, as long as they only have carry-on luggage, are entitled to bypass customary check-in procedures; however, they still must pass through a metal detector and security check.
The service is currently limited to flights leaving from Helsinki and Stockholm.

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