Shrooda.com is a fascinating new startup that offers a mobile price comparison engine. Here’s how it works. You enter your username and password for your mobile phone services online billing. Shrooda then takes your itemised bills and determines the best price plan available to you in the UK. The site uses product feeds from the major retailers of mobile phones and supports the UK’s four largest mobile networks so far.
Now, there are other sites that will do price comparison based on what information you tell it, such as uSwitch.com, but none (that I know of) that actually use your real live billing data in this way. Unfortunately, to do this the site has to skirt some interesting issues. The only way possible to access this data is to scrape it, using the customers password. Co-founder Grieg Rapley says “convincing mobile networks of the benefits of OAuth is not straightforward. However, the solution we have developed is fully automated and easily updatable when changes are made (most recently O2).” That may not, of course, be enough re-assurance for people to hand over passwords to their accounts, to put it mildly.
But there are some interesting possibilities for this model, which are already being explored by sites like Mint. Namely, that putting up a profile of your usage means you can start to compare your mobile use habits against others. So, say I wanted to work what other mobile services people like me use – this would the the sort of site where I could start (assuming they add those features).
Shrooda says they say they have yet to find a user who is within £4 per month of their best plan, and their “worst” user could benefit in excess of £30 per month. I would have tried it myself but I have temporarily lost the log-in for my mobile provider!