Purch Launches Mobile Comparison Shopping App, Purchx

Many of you may know that we, Tom's Hardware, belong to a corporate entity called Purch, which also owns and runs publications like Tom's Guide, a site that is often confused with us but is aimed more at the general tech consumer. Purch also owns our long-time rival (now close, friendly family member), AnandTech. Outside of enthusiast and consumer technology, Purch owns sites including LiveScience, Space.com and BusinessNewsDaily. And the company runs a more commerce-driven, shopping comparison entity called TopTenReviews, where editors compare everything from curling irons to anti-virus software. (As an aside, Tom's IT Pro, also a member of the Purch family, is run by the same editorial team that creates Tom's Hardware.) 

We each make our editorial decisions independently, but we share common services such as development, sales, infrastructure, IT, HR and finance. 

I'm telling you this as a bit of background to let you know that Purch is also launching a mobile shopping comparison app called Purchx. For now, it runs on iOS, and later this year it will run on Android. It is an overhaul of the Consumr app, which Purch acquired this past March. It contains millions of peer-reviewed products in categories such as beauty and hair care, home and garden, appliances and — this is the part where it's somewhat relevant for you — electronics.

Now I say that, but I also want to be truthful and note that Purchx does not yet contain the sort of enthusiast-level products we cover here on Tom's Hardware, but there are plans to do so very soon (as in later this summer and into the fall, on an iterative basis). For now, there are ways to pull from various external databases of enthusiast products for comparison purposes. And that's why I'm telling you about this free app now.

More to the point, for those who want to download it and try it out (you can do so here), tell us what you think and how Purch might make it serve the needs of the enthusiast best. I have a few ideas of my own. 

There are three ways to navigate the app. You can browse the existing taxonomy, which is limited to user-generated categories rather than system-generated ones, but you can also search. The database contains 156,000 products across 13 electronics categories so far, but it also includes the entire Best Buy catalog (the app, which goes beyond electronics, has 3 million products in its database). 

The third way to use the app is by scanning an item's barcode in a store. I haven't had a chance to try this out yet, but I'm anxious to see what happens inside of Fry's, for example. Apparently, you can scan multiple products and compare them all side by side.

If a product isn't in the existing database, the app will pull from external sources, such as Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart, eBay and Best Buy. User reviews are also pulled from those sources, in addition to the app database. The app pulls the best guess if it can't find the product.

Once you pull up a product, you can compare it side by side with competitive products. You can review a product by giving it a rating and providing your own personal experience, and you can earn points and even small rewards for doing so. If the product isn't in the database, you can review it and make it part of the app.

If you pull up products we've reviewed, or given an award, that will be noted, and the review will be accessible from within the app.

Here's a quick promotional video for the app.

Fritz Nelson is the Editor-In-Chief of Tom's Hardware. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Follow Tom's Hardware on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Fritz Nelson
Fritz Nelson is Editor-at-Large of Tom's Hardware US.
  • RedJaron
    Any plans for a Windows Phone version?
  • uglyduckling81
    Well this is just a blatant advert. Like an infomercial. Disguising itself as a news article.
    Has no relevance to Tom's Hardware. Are articles at Tom's Hardware just advertising pieces?
  • Titillating
    No relevance to Tom's Hardware? TH is owned by Purch. Purch is the publisher of the Purchx app. Purchx will, in the near future, list and include products covered by Tom's Hardware's editorial team. Seems relevant enough to me.
  • rubix_1011
    I think that certainly ticks all the boxes of criticism and wild speculation.

    If you own the site and the IP, you certainly can post what you want or advertise/spread the word about one on the other.
  • uglyduckling81
    McDonalds owns a whole heap of food chains including Chipotle Mexican Grill. You don't see McDonalds Menu billboards up at any of the restaurants they own except at McDonalds Restaurants.
    Just because you buy out another company doesn't mean you have to bastardise it to gain traction for the parent company. You buy it as an alternative source of income.
    A more appropriate place for this article would of been a link in a banner AD rather than disguising it as a new article.
  • Titillating
    Being a majority stakeholder in a company is different from owning it. McDonald's did not own Chipotle, and they sold all their stocks in Chipotle over 10 years ago. Plus, it's comparing apples to oranges (two fast food chains targeting different audiences vs. two online entities targeting the same audience).

    Will also point out that companies are routinely bought out and "bastardized" to gain traction for the parent company. Android was bought up by Google and has been used as a platform to push a variety of Google services and products ever since. Apple recently bought out a mapping company, and they will use that software in their future phones. Microsoft picked up Nokia because they couldn't manufacture a decent phone to push their Windows Phone OS with. Are all of these acquisitions used as an alternative source of income? Yes and no, since they were acquired to bolster the parent company's existing offerings, though one could argue that the Android platform has since grown past that point into an entity of its own.

    Personally, I would imagine that a brief news article that isn't exactly intrusive would a better alternative than forcing a banner ad on people. Not exactly sure how it's being disguised either. It's not like it was titled in a way that was misleading.
  • uglyduckling81
    Chipolte was just an example, they own many other franchises which do not advertise McDonalds.
    I'm not saying using a subsidiary to push your agenda doesn't happen, I'm saying it's poor form and lowers the quality of the subsidiary company's image. I'm asking Tom's to not go down this road.
    A shopping app has no relevance to a technical computer hardware site just because it may have computers as one of the products being sold. This is not news in any sense of the word, this is just an an advertisement.
    It would be like if GM bought Tom's and started advertising new models or features of their cars and we called it relevant because computer hardware is delivered and transported by motor vehicles.
    Next we will get an in depth run down of all the shopping categories of this shopping app under the review section.
  • Darkbreeze
    Nobody forced you to read the article. If it was a banner ad, somebody would be looking at it through no choice of their own. I think it's done right.
  • Titillating
    I think the doomsday forecast is a little premature. And I believe we've already addressed the issue of relevance.

    In the end, it comes down to this: this was a brief, unassuming article announcing the launch of an app that wants to provide users with a platform to share customer reviews and compare items they are interested in purchasing. This, like all apps, will appeal to certain people while others will not find a use for it. You, uglyduckling81, clearly fall into the latter group; RedJaron, who asked about a Windows Phone version, likely falls into the former. The app is free, it is optional, and this article explicitly uses the electronics category as an example because that is our audience, while also clearly pointing out that it is not yet up to par with enthusiast standards.

    Believe it or not, people do come to Tom's Hardware to make purchasing decisions. It's part of why reviews are a popular feature and why there are so many forum threads asking for purchasing advice. The app provides an alternate means to get that advice. I like to think of it as an optional, free supplemental resource being offered.
  • uglyduckling81

    Here is a list of top new apps available for Android. Perhaps Tom's should do 'articles' about all of them?
    Or perhaps if we want to know about Apps we can go to a relevant App site and learn about good ones.
    Then we can come back to Tom's HARDWARE to learn about hardware developments.
    This site is not a jack of all trades, it is a hardware site and it should keep doing what it is good at. Not water down the quality of the site for the sake of it's parent company.