Comparison Shopping from Your Mobile

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Did you ever get the feeling while shopping that you might not be getting the best deal? Pongr is an application that can make sure you do. There are a few ways to use the service. The first, and easiest is to take a photo of the product and send the photo via MMS to SHOPP (74677). The second is to send a text message with the product's UPC code or the product name or title to SHOPP (74677). The third is to send an email with the UPC code to ping@pongr.com.

In all cases you will get a return message with a list of the best prices and websites for the item that Pongr can find. The most reliable method is using the UPC code. Text messages will work, but because of limits on characters, you may not get every result they find.

There is an iPhone app, a Facebook app and coming soon, a Blackberry and Android app. You can sign up for an account, but it's not necessary.

Does it work? Yes, and no. I first tested the UPC by sending an email from my Blackberry to ping@pongr.com with the code for "The Chicago Manual of Style." I got back an email within about 20 seconds:

The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers
$33.99 at Half.com
http://pongr.com/m/3402XXXX (The X's are added by me because the link was pointing to a page in which my account and email came up.)

The Half.com link takes you to the website, with no particular product listed. The second link takes you to a page with more prices and links to the actual product pages. Next, I took a photo and tried to send it via MMS to 74677. It didn't work. Then I tried sending the photo via email to ping@pongr.com. While I did get the same result as above, the first seven results were completely unrelated. Finally, I sent a text message "The Chicago Manual of Style." I was surprised to get a result from Amazon, for $31.19. Then, after clicking the link, my mobile browser took me to an Amazon page that was for "Manual of Style: Containing Typographical Rules Governing the Publications of the University of Chicago Press together with Specimens of Types Used at the University of Chicago Press, 1927 Edition." Close (they are both published by The University of Chicago Press) but no cigar.

Clearly, there are some kinks to be worked out - the site is in beta. But it looks promising. I'm guessing that the apps will work nicely. Either way, Pongr works fast (important if you're shopping in a store) and it did bring back a result that was about $20 less than what I paid for the book.

 
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