Billshrink, the new startup that aspires to simplify the often painful process of choosing and comparing mobile plans (and eventually other services), has launched in beta. While promising, it still needs a lot of work.
The site offers an ostensibly impressive feature-set. Upon entering a cell number and the password associated with a mobile account, the user is presented with a comprehensive usage analysis, including a listing of the user’s most-called contacts and networks. Those wary of sharing their personal information can manually enter data such as “minutes used”, though this is a somewhat more tedious process. Data is compiled and analyzed, at which point a list of comparable (and hopefully less expensive) plans is presented.
Billshrink also offers maps with visual representations of each carrier’s cell phone strength. Users can even enter their home and work locations to determine a “Commute Rating”, which analyzes connection strength over a route calculated by Google Maps.
Unfortunately, many of these features are still buggy. While the usage graphs presented after entering our bill information were impressive, the resulting phone plan comparison was anything but. Our top suggestion featured a T-mobile plan with a data charge of over $185M (obviously in error). The signal-strength map never seemed to materialize over the standard Google Maps view, though the “Commute Rating” feature worked fine. (Update: We’ve tried the phone plan comparison again and it works well now)
Despite these shortcomings, the site is still useful and allows the average beta tester to save $225 annually according to company statistics.