“Oren Etzioni writes articles about artificial intelligence for scholarly journals, is a renowned expert on data mining, and gained fame when Microsoft paid $115 million for Farecast, an airline-ticket price predictor he founded.
“Now, Professor Etzioni, who teaches computer science at the University of Washington, has directed his considerable intellect at the American ritual of shopping for bargains on Black Friday. After examining billions of prices of consumer electronics, he has decided to spend the busiest shopping day of the year scuba-diving in Bali.
“Why? It is not until early December, Professor Etzioni’s research shows, that prices are likely to be the lowest for electronics, products that are among the biggest sellers on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
“‘The bottom line is, Black Friday is for the retailers to go from the red into the black,’ he said. ‘It’s not really for people to get great deals on the most popular products.’ …
“The added value Professor Etzioni brings to price discussions is the computer crunching of the trove of data provided by online prices — and specific recommendations about when to make a purchase.
“Following the approach of Farecast, now part of Microsoft’s Bing search engine, the professor’s start-up company, Decide.com, studies current and historical prices, information about new models and rumors about new product introductions to figure out the best time to buy.”