I've tested Frucall for books and electronics and found the system fairly easy to use (figuring out bar codes turned out to be the most difficult part of the process). More importantly, when I tested Frucall in a local BestBuy, the service consistently delivered competitive prices. I'm still waiting for a barcode scanner to attach to my phone (as I believe this product exists in Japan), but Frucall is a solid solution.
Following is my e-mail Q&A with Nasser Manesh, CTO of Frucall:
How many individual product SKUs are covered?
"Right now we are covering Amazon's database, which is a few million items. See below for more details."
Where does the product database come from? Are you just working through Amazon's API?
"The initial launch of the service was with Amazon only. Work is already under way to expand the search beyond Amazon, and take advantage of not only e-retailers such as Amazon, but comparison shopping engines. The goal is to provide the best possible online prices to the in-store shopper."
What is your relationship with Amazon? Is it a basic affiliate relationship?
"We are an AWS (Amazon Web Services) developer, and the business relationship at this point is the basic affiliate relationship."
Is there a certain category that you focus on like Books or Digital Cameras?
"The vision is to cover everything, and our software is designed to handle that. However since the initial focus is on UPC codes, our
service in its current state is more helpful with books, CDs, DVDs and movies, games, and electronics because the shopper can easily spot the UPC and call us to perform the search."
Do you hope to develop your own database of merchants or will you partner with a shopping comparison engine?
"We prefer to stay focused on our area of expertise, which is delivering information to the communication device of the user's choice. We are establishing partnerships with comparison engines to extend the reach of their data to the mobile shopper."
How do you plan to make money? Affiliate relationships? Advertising?
"A combination of different channels. Both affiliate relationships and advertisement are in our plans, as well as other types of partnerships."
Is this just a test program to prove Millenigence CBU's technology?
"No, this is not a test program. Millenigence is fully committed to making Frucall the number one brand for mobile comparison shopping."
Are there other companies doing this?
"There are a few other companies or experiments with services that may seem similar to Frucall, but Millenigence is the only company with a commercial focus and established partnerships for promoting mobile comparison shopping. Early on in the process of building the service, we filed patents and we continue to see Frucall as a key area of fast growth and high demand in our Consumer Business Unit."