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“A New Secret Weapon for Electronics Shoppers”

The New York Times profiles UW CSE’s Oren Etzioni and his most recent company, Decide.com:

“Perhaps the biggest consumer weapon arrived this year in the form of Decide.com.  It is a Web site, and more recently an app for mobile devices, that collects and mines billions of transactions to determine what the best price is and whether there will be an even better price soon …

“For example, Decide.com said last week with 81 percent confidence that the Panasonic Viera 50-inch plasma TV (model TC-P50S30), a popular model, would drop within the next two weeks.  It also predicted, with 62 percent confidence, that a new model would come along within three months.

“Scoff if you will, but a week before Thanksgiving, Decide.com was advising shoppers to hold off buying a 16-gigabyte iPad because it predicted a price drop.  Apple did lower the price of that model by $41 on Black Friday, the big shopping day that follows Thanksgiving …

“Decide is run by many of the same people who built Farecast, a site that gave consumers a fighting chance against the airlines, which are constantly changing prices to match demand.

“‘Consumers have no access to big data,’ said Mr. Etzioni, who also founded Farecast …

“‘What we really see, and I am very excited by this, is the increased transparency,’ Mr. Etzioni said. ‘The inexorable trend is towards transparency.'”

Read the rest here.

December 6, 2011