**As published in digiday:DAILY** Publisher: GetFugu Inc. Price: Free Platform: tested on BlackBerry and iPod Touch Advertising: ads in the form of logos for major brands appear in search results Functionality: C Fun Factor: B- Overall: C All too often in the mobile app space, users are “getting abused by ads from AdMob,” John Basile, chief software engineer said at CTIA last week. He was demonstrating some new features coming to the GetFugu search app, and compared the company’s zip-code based approach to mobile as akin to a more refined Yellow Pages model. The direct-to-consumer marketing opportunity here is quite obvious, and if GetFugu can prove its value as a mobile search provider, it could spur a renewed interest from brands to gain preferred placement with consumers at a price. It’s still early days for the company, and after spending the better part of an hour with the app on a BlackBerry Bold 9700 and iPod Touch, it shows. The company is not only building a vast database of searchable logos and voice tags, but it’s simultaneously trying to convince large and small businesses to make a play in the visual and voice search game for a fee. With packages ranging from $9.99 to over $99 per month, depending on how many zip codes the business wants to be associated with, GetFugu will build WAP pages, register a company’s name and logo, provide real-time analytics and more.
The capabilities of the service are strikingly similar to others on the market today. The forthcoming version of GetFugu could easily be called Google Voice Search, Google Goggles and Google Maps all in one, but the company is also taking a unique approach to compiling data that sets it apart. Users are able to upload their own photos of logos to register on the service in addition to those that gained placement on the service as an effective advertiser. After being teased with an exclusive first look at the Augmented Reality features for devices with a compass (like the iPhone 3GS) and then other improvements that will be included in the next release that’s being submitted to Apple at week’s end, it was tough to come away with a positive reaction to the currently available versions. Bearing in mind that the app is going through growing pains and still finding its groove, I came across multiple failed search results in my testing of the app. In multiple “see it” or photo searches on the app, a photo of Citibank turned back successful, while shots taken of logos for Samsung, Gucci and multiple variations of Microsoft failed. Similarly, “say it” or voice searches for Rock Bottom Brewery, McDonalds and In N Out were right on the money, while 7-11 came back as Canon, then San Diego Chargers on a retry. Finally, multiple attempts at “get ATM” never got any closer to what I was after. It’s the new features – results organized by platform, the Augmented Reality overlay, maps, and more – that will further separate GetFugu from its competitors, but without a stable database and improved search results the company could just as likely be in for a tough road ahead.