Frucall, mobile shopping comparison search

frucalllogo.jpgFrucall, a Cupertino, Calif. company is offering a convenient way to check prices for all kinds of products from your cell phone while you’re shopping.

Today, in addition to letting you search prices with voice — by calling 1-888-Dofrucall — it also launches price search via your mobile WAP browser and texting (SMS).

We tried it out at Starbucks the other day, and it worked great. We found an Italian espresso machine on the shelf, typed in the product’s barcode at www.Frucall.com/m on our Treo browser, and hit search. While Starbucks priced it at $19, Frucall took us to a page showing it priced at $17 — saving us $2. Frucall gave us a way to purchase the product, and also lists local merchants carrying it.

For people who like hunting for bargains, this is a useful service. There’s a bunch of other features. It lets you record a voice message about a product when you’re shopping, in case you want to retrieve it later. It also converts your voice messages into text.

It also lets advertisers bid to place ads on result pages for specific product barcodes, product categories, zip code, phone area codes. It gives advertisers an easy way to convert voice ads into text.

Google, by contrast, lets you text a barcode, and provides information only on products contained in Google Base (merchants are forced to submit their products there). Frucall’s coverage is broader, including products found at Google, Yahoo and eBay. Pricegrabber, meanwhile, does something similar via the Web, but doesn’t offer a voice service, or such a robust mobile offering.

You can search without registering. But more benefits come with registering, such as finding previous searches.

Frucall raised a first round of funding “in the millions” of dollars earlier this year, from PacGen Ventures, according to chief executive Behzad Nadji. He plans to keep that Series A round open, and to raise more by the middle of this year, he said. Nadji was previously at AT&T, as senior vice president of research and architecture. The company has 20 people.

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