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Price Comparison Service:

On the internet, a price comparison service (also known as shopping comparison or price engine) allows individuals to see lists of prices for specific products. Most price comparison services do not sell products themselves, but source prices from retailers from whom users can buy. The internet boom of the late 1990s made the concept of price comparison both possible and profitable.

In the United States, the first two internet comparison shopping services were Jango and RoboShopper. These services were initially implemented as client-side add-ins to the Netscape and Internet explorer browsers, and both required that additional software be downloaded and installed. After these initial efforts, comparison shopping migrated to the server so that the service would be accessible to anyone with a browser.

Currently some of the major U.S. Based comparison shopping services are MySimon (bought by CNET for over $300 million), BizRate, Dealtime, and NexTag. Major portals like Yahoo and MSN also offer comparison shopping services.

The original Roboshopper.com site still exists and has been re-targeted as a "Meta" tool which gives results from the leading comparison shopping sites, as well as product review and rating sites.

In the late 1990s, as more people gained access to the internet, a range of shopping portals were built that listed retailers for specific product genres. Retailers listed paid the website a fixed fee for appearing. These were little more than an online version of the Yellow Pages. As technology has improved, a newer "breed" of shopping Web portals is being created that are changing both the business model and the features and functionality offered. These sites do not "aggregate" data-feeds provided from the retailers, they search and retrieve the data directly from each retailer site. This allows for a much more comprehensive list of retailers and the ability to update the data in real-time.

Major U.S. Sites:

* www.shopper.com

* www.nextag.com

In India:

* www.bechna.com

Generic portals and search engines launched similar services. Companies that stood to benefit from increased internet shopping (especially credit card and delivery firms) launched similar sites including Royal Mail, BT, Egg, and Barclays Bank. Many of these services have since closed.

In 1995, pricewatch.com originated as the first price comparison search engine, focusing on computer hardware and software related products. In 1998 and 1999, various other firms developed technology that searched retailers websites for prices and stored them in a central database. Users could then search for a product, and see a list of retailers and prices for that product. Advertisers did not pay to be listed, but paid for every click on a price. The biggest of these services included:

* www.shopsmart.co.uk

* www.shopgenie.co.uk

* www.checkaprice.co.uk

Globally, similar websites were launched, and the period continued to see various websites launched, merged, acquired and closed.


* Kelkoo merged with Dondecomprar and ShopGenie. Later that year Kelkoo and Zoomit finalised their £100 million merger with ZoomIt. Kelkoo's investors owned about two thirds of the merged company

* CNet acquired MySimon for common stock worth approximately $700M

* ShopSmart relaunched under Barclays ownership


* Barclays announced that they were to close ShopSmart, with all traffic redirected to Kelkoo.


* Dealtime acquired Epinions


* Kelkoo acquired by Yahoo for €475m

* PriceRunner acquired by ValueClick for $29m plus shares

* Shopping.com floated on Nasdaq Stock Exchange


* eBay acquired Shopping.com for $620m

* E.W. Scripps acquired Shopzilla $525 million

* Experian acquires PriceGrabber for $485 million


* RoboShopper.com, one of the first comparison shopping services redifined itself as a "meta" comparison shopper offering results from a variety of sources.