Google buys consumer electronics comparison engine Sparkbuy

Sparkbuy's site will close, but Google will keep its database and three employees

Google has acquired Sparkbuy, a year-old Seattle startup that developed a comparison shopping service for consumer electronics products.

Sparkbuy's service allowed buyers to research products in just two categories, laptops and TV sets, but to perform detailed comparisons going beyond basic tech specs.

"We're thrilled that Sparkbuy will be joining Google," a Google spokeswoman said via e-mail. "They have built an impressive comparison shopping site that is simple in design yet powerful for consumers." She did not elaborate on whether or how the technology will be incorporated into Google offerings.

Sparkbuy's site will never leave the beta-testing phase it's been in since December; "We won't be offering services at sparkbuy.com any more," the company's founders wrote in a farewell message.

Google already operates a product comparison service, originally called Froogle and since renamed first Google Products and now Google Shopping. That service compares all kinds of products, including gadgets, gifts and clothing, by extracting data from automated feeds provided by online merchants. In the case of laptops, Google Shopping sticks to comparing simple specifications such as the screen resolution or the brand of processor.

Sparkbuy's three employees took a different approach with a more limited range of product comparisons, hiring a team of researchers to call laptop and TV manufacturers. That allowed the company to collect different types of information that had not previously been provided in a structured, consistent way, and synthesize it into ratings that potential buyers could compare. For example, Sparkbuy rated laptops for "speed" (calculated from the amount and type of memory, the hard drive speed and benchmarks for CPU and graphics performance), and for their suitability for running Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office or a handful of popular games, based on whether or not they met or exceeded the software vendors required or recommended minimum hardware configurations.

Google's acquisition of a potential competitor in the comparison shopping market will likely not please others, who have filed antitrust complaints against Google with the European Commission. Two comparison shopping sites, U.K.-based Foundem and the German company Ciao, now owned by Microsoft, were among the first to file complaints.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Sparkbuybusiness issuesInternet-based applications and servicesMergers / acquisitionse-commerceGoogleinternetsearch engines

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?