Google, the search-engine-cum-advertising broker, has launched a UK beta version of its Froogle catalogue search site.
Froogle is a natural extension of Google's sponsored links and advertising. Search for an item and it'll return a list of UK retailers that sell it somewhere online, along with related paid-for advertising. The company says it has hundreds of merchants already signed up.
Froogle, Google says, isn't an online store, and you can't buy things from it. It is a "quick way to search the largest collection of stores and products on the web. That means if the item you are looking to buy is online, Froogle will likely find it."
Merchants who want to be included in the listings, for free, can submit an electronic data feed containing a description, price and image of the item they have for sale.
A quick test reveals that Froogle does very nicely on fairly general searches for technology-related items like iBooks, wireless routers, and a nice selection of French wines. [And wine is technology related exactly how? - Ed]. Non-tech items like hamster food and yoga mats are also available in abundance on the non-paid for listings.
As with the standard Google site, the search results include clearly labelled paid-for text advertisements.
We look forward to the emergence of a new verb: to Froogle, i.e., "I am going froogling". ®