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Microsoft Launches Live Mobile Product Search, Locator

Microsoft announced late yesterday the launch of a new mobile search offering—product search under their Live brand. Microsoft’s browser-based mobile product search, accessible from m.live.com

The Live product search page displays products available in online stores (though the “Near Santa Cruz, CA” in the screen cap below would indicate that brick-and-mortars are also searched), including prices, ratings and reviews. The search results also composite ratings on specific features of the products, including things such as ease of use, and report the results back to you.

A sample generic search results page:
mobile product search from microsoft live

As part of this roll out, Live is also launching the “Find My Location” feature in the UK and Japan, triangulating users’ locations from cell phone towers. The feature, which currently only works with Vodafone, O2, Orange or T-Mobile networks in the UK, is similar to Google’s “My Location” feature, announced in November.

Kayak.com Acquiring Rival SideStep.com

Travel search engine Kayak.com is paying $196 million to acquire its closest competitor SideStep.com. Both are search engines to help travelers find the best prices on airfare, hotels, and car rentals. Like most search engines, they make money with partnerships and advertising.

The deal was financed from many sources, starting with Sequoia Capital, General Catalyst Partners and Accel Partners. SideStep investors include Norwest Venture Partners and Trident Capital. New investors Oak Investment Partners and Lehman Brothers Venture Partners.

They do plan to keep both sites separate in style and branding but combine some of their technology. Kayak looks more like a search engine, while SideStep is has a richer interface and more content (Kayak’s blog could use some influence from SideStep). Kayak has some plugins and widgets while SideStep has a review site and social network for travelers.

Black Friday Deals at Retrevo

Americans will spend upwards of $48 billion on consumer electronics this holiday. Many need some help deciding out what to buy. You can search Google for hours or look at comparison sites, or you can go to Retrevo to find that GPS or iPhone.

The site is a shopping search engine to help you find the best deals as well as reviews, and blog posts about products. You can choose to get advice from the experts or community. If you’re shopping for Black Friday deals they have a list. They aggregate product information where you can find lists of most popular lists from CNET, Amazon, PriceGrabber, and other sites.

Microsoft Acquires Jellyfish – Apparently Shuns Peanutbutterfish

Microsoft has acquired comparison shopping engine Jellyfish, and it actually looks like a cool company!

I must admit that I’ve never heard of Jellyfish before. Considering the name, I wondered if the founders thought about the name association – “Buy with us and you’ll get stung!”. ;-)

Digging into the details, it appears Jellyfish is the type of shopping engine I wish I had found BEFORE Microsoft–‘cos you just know they’ll screw it up.

So why do I like the sound of Jellyfish? Here’s what got my attention:

You use Jellyfish.com just like you would any other shopping search engine to find the right product at the best price. But when you actually buy something from a store in our engine, we share at least half of what we earn by connecting you to that store. All you need to do is sign up for an account to earn cash back. There are no fees or hidden charges.

Scripps Killing the Goose That Laid the Interactive Eggs?

image It appears Scripps–the 100+ year old media company–isn’t having the level of success with online media it had hoped.

Acquiring online comparison shopping site Shopzilla for $525 million in cash in 2005, Scripps indicated it expected great growth from the company. Unfortunately, it appears tougher competition and increased costs have thrown them of course and now Shopzilla is struggling, according to Portfolio.com.

Shopzilla’s revenue in the second quarter fell to $59 million this year from $65 million last year, and profits were down to $6.8 million compared with $16.5 million a year ago.

image Adding to Shopzilla’s woes are reduced referral revenue from the search engines and costs associated with management changes.

So, does this suggest dark days ahead for online comparison sites? Maybe not. Compare Scripps doom and gloom with ValueClick’s upbeat report.

Shine a Light on Cloaked Links

So I’m sitting here listening to some old school jams, reading my daily mundane marketing RSS feeds, and preparing something to put me out of my misery. But wait, what is this? A blog post, and not an article, that is more useful than any article I have read in a month (or longer)?

I’ve covered link cloaking before. It’s usually not hard to spot. Those that do it usually do so in excess. While discussing SearchEngineWorld.com and possible link cloaking David Naylor brings to light that Google is showing site => redirect => site links compared to Yahoo only showing site => site links with a backlink check.

Price Still Most Important Factor for Retail Success, But Losing Ground

Traditionally, the website selling a particular product at the lowest price has a huge advantage over the competition. However, according to a recent study from Shopzilla, that may be changing.

The survey of about 2,000 online shoppers revealed that 49% of shoppers considered the price to be most important factor in making a buying decision. That is down from 59% in 2003.

So what factor is taking the pace of price? The answer may surprise you–18% of shoppers said that customer feedback is the most important factor. Only 7% picked customer feedback in 2003.

As the web becomes more and more dominated by user generated content, it is obvious that customer feedback about companies and products will continue to grow in importance. This trend especially gives hope to small online retailers that cannot compete on price, because smaller companies should normally have an advantage in customer satisfaction.