The PhoneBoy Blog


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Check Online Prices From Your Mobile Phone

Nasser Manesh, the CTO of Frucall, read my post on how to get me to write about your product and decided to email me "one of the shortest pitches you've had." I got emailed about this last week, but I basically was doing email triage last week. I'm now getting through the backlog and starting.

Instead of trying to write clever words myself, I am going to use Nasser's words and comment in-line.

Frucall is a free phone-based comparison shopping service for consumers to compare prices and purchase products using their cell phones, anywhere, anytime.

Now that's an elevator pitch. A simple sentence to describe what your product does.

Let's say you're in a store shopping, and you're wondering about the price of the digital camera you're looking at. All you need to do is to place a phone call to Frucall's toll-free number, and key in the barcode of the product. Frucall searches the product online, and reads the prices back to you.

We are unique because we are using voice. Other services in the same space require you to have a data plan, or download a special software to your phone, have and use a WAP browser, etc – and they work with certain carriers for that eason. Average consumer, however, is not comfortable with these "gadget" features and additions. With Frucall, it's just a phone call, and it works ubiquitously across all carriers.

The next two paragraphs explain how it works and why it's unique. I love it. :)

I hope I have been able to address thinks that you prefer to know about our service. If the concept has kept you interested up to this point, there's also a demo you can watch:

http://content.frucall.com/demo/

You can easily try Frucall. It's free. Pick up your phone, grab a book, call us and punch in the ISBN (we support different types of barcode), sit back and listen. You'll like it :-) Then bookmark it, go to the web site and register if you have not done so already, and check your bookmarks.

Of course I went and signed up. Since I'm currently not shopping, I just pulled a couple of books off my bookshelf, called up Frucall from my mobile phone, and followed along the menus. It works more or less as described. I called up, typed in the UPC, and within a few seconds, I had confirmation I typed in the right item–it reads the name of it to you–along with a range of pricing online. You can bookmark it for viewing online, send a text message to yourself with the information, and more.

Here are some initial thoughts I have on this service.

  1. When you sign up, you provide your mobile phone number. This is so the system can recognize you. I assume since you're calling FRUCALL's 800 number that they aren't using the infinitely spoofable CallerID, but rather ANI information, which not only can't be blocked, but is a lot harder to spoof. I'll have to ask Nasser about that. Otherwise, I have some concerns, especially when they implement that "buy" option in the menus. :)

  2. If you call with an "unregistered" number, i.e. a number not assigned to a Frucall account, you are still given options for "buying" and "bookmarking." These options don't make sense because it has no way to associate that information with an account. Perhaps if they gave you a way to come in via a different phone and somehow "authenticate" to your normal account this would be useful.

  3. There are some ads in this service, which is to be expected since it's free. However, they are not intrusive. I still wonder what other methods they are going to use to monetize this service. Certainly commissions from online retailers is another method.

  4. You should be able to look up a book by its ISBN in addition to the barcode.

Anyway, this looks like an insanely useful service that I've added an entry for in my phone's phonebook. I'll have to check it out next time I go to a physical store to shop.

Edit: Major HTML and CSS snafus made this article look yucky. I hope I've fixed them. 


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