Google Debuts Online Shopping Service Froogle

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Google has spawned Froogle, an online shopping service for product search that will go head to head with DealTime, BizRate.com and MySimon as well as AOL Shopping, MSN Shopping and Yahoo Shopping.


Available at www.froogle.com, the site uses Google's spidering software to crawl the Internet and automatically identify Web pages that offer products for sale.


"The strategy is to bring more of the world's information to users, so we're trying to gather as much information as we can and that's evident with Google catalog search, Google News and Google image search," said Eileen Rodriguez, spokeswoman for Google, Mountain View, CA.


Froogle will bank on the 150 million searches conducted each day on its sibling Google site. It will use Google's search technology to locate stores that sell the item searched and point directly to the place where it can be bought. The service will work like its flagship Google offering. Search results will be automatically generated by Google's ranking software. It will not accept payment for inclusion of products in its searches. And it will not place a merchant higher in the results even if it is an advertiser or if the merchant offers to pay for that placement. But like Google, Froogle will accept paid ads through sponsored links that will pull up when they are relevant to the search or keyword entered.


David Epstein, senior vice president of corporate development at DealTime, New York, the leading online shopping search engine, said Froogle's debut is a validation of the shopping search space. DealTime currently runs ads on Google and Froogle.


"We see them much more as a partner than as a threat, and they will help expand the market for what we do," he said.


Still, there is no denying that the entry of an 800-pound gorilla will be noticed in the room.


Epstein's tone suggests that sites like DealTime and its peers have a fighting chance, at least while Google fine-tunes Froogle.


"What we're providing are links to products and tools and resources that help consumers navigate through the details to drill down to specific products and sorting by price," he said. "What you can't do on Froogle is narrow down on certain features or sort by price or by delivered price with shipping cost."


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