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Best Buy (s bby) and Fuse Capital are taking the wraps off a new consumer electronics shopping and information service called Tecca, the first venture out of the digital fund Best Buy established last year and gave over to Fuse Capital to manage.
Tecca was quietly launched last week as an app on the iPhone (s AAPL) and Android (s GOOG) platforms aimed at making the process of buying gadgets easy. Ross Levinsohn, managing director at Fuse and former president of Fox Interactive Media (s atvi), is serving as chairman while fellow Fuse partner and former Fox Interactive head of entertainment Mickie Rosen will be the CEO.
The idea is that when consumers are on the prowl for technology products, they can fire up the Tecca app and get reviews, specifications, pictures and other information. They can also put items on a wish list or just buy them from a handful of retailers (including, obviously, Best Buy).
Others like Retrevo or GDGT offer similar services, online but Tecca is positioning itself as a mobile app solution. Toward that end, Tecca also offers the ability to scan barcodes on products, a la RedLaser, in order to get information and competing prices on the items.
The company of just seven employees has plans to roll out a web site and a mobile site, as well as an iPad app by the end of this year. It also plans to expand its offering to include more information about using products, taking care of them and ultimately recycling them when the time comes.
Levinsohn said in an interview that the goal is to give people a very easy-to-use destination for tech buying information, helping bridge the digital world and the physical marketplace. He said the target isn’t hardcore tech fiends but mainstream users who are still savvy enough to shop through their phones. Ultimately, he says he hopes to curate information from a number of sites including potential competitors like GDGT and Retrevo.
Besides the original funding, Best Buy also provided some consumer user data for Tecca. But Levinsohn said Tecca is being run as a completely separate entity, which means Tecca could steer consumers away from Best Buy if they like lower prices from other online retailers.
For Best Buy, it’s another sign that the company is looking beyond just being a brick and mortar retailer. The company also bought Napster in 2008 for $121 million and announced a partnership last year with Sonic Solutions to pursue a CinemaNow movie download service.
It’s not necessarily going to be easy for Tecca. They’re looking for middle-of-the-road users but mobile apps, we’re learning, aren’t quite a mainstream phenomenon yet. The Best Buy tie-in is nowhere to be found on Tecca either, which could have helped Tecca get some more initial brand awareness from users.
Disclosure: GDGT is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.
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