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Google Patents Profit-Maximizing Dynamic Pricing 294

Posted by timothy
from the what-the-market-will-bare dept.
theodp writes "A newly-granted Google patent on Dynamic Pricing of Electronic Content describes how information gleaned from your search history and social networking activity can be used against you by providing tell-tale clues for your propensity to pay jacked-up prices to 'reconsume' electronic content, such as 'watching a video recording, reading an electronic book, playing a game, or listening to an audio recording.' The patent is illustrated with drawings showing how some individuals can be convinced to pay 4x what others will be charged for the same item. From the patent: 'According to one innovative aspect of the subject matter described by this specification, a system may use this information to tailor the price that is offered to the particular user to repurchase the particular item of electronic content. By not applying discounts for users that may, in relation to a typical user, be more inclined to repurchase a particular product, profits may increase.' Hey, wasn't this kind of dynamic pricing once considered evil?"
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Google Patents Profit-Maximizing Dynamic Pricing

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  • Please, how is this patent any different from real world bargaining? It's true it happens less and less now, but especially in third world countries bargaining is every day happening.. from tuk tuk rides to shopping.

    Essentially Google just added digital into the mix. What a great discovery so worthy of patent! Google, you've changed.
    • by GodInHell (258915)
      Its procedural?
    • Google, you've changed.

      They have? You know something we don't?

    • by Goaway (82658)

      Please, how is this patent any different from real world bargaining?

      Pretty much every single part about it is different, except for the bit where the price changes?

    • by fm6 (162816) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @02:44PM (#41251671) Homepage Journal

      It's not different, that's whole point. Bargaining involves human thought processes. Most human thought processes are poorly understood. If you can create a well-defined procedure that replicates a mysterious human thought process, you've clearly done something innovative.

      Which is not to say I'm happy about businesses finding another way to gouge me,...

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        It's different in that this has been patented by a company with a vast collection of information about most people. Existing B&M stores may do this based on quick tells about a persons demeanor and appearance, but that's really all they have to go on. Using the data Google has to *help* people find deals, or preferred products ... not Evil. Patenting a process to use the information available to them to determine maximum likely price ... not necessarily Evil. Using said patent against the people whose

        • by fm6 (162816)

          OK, it's different in that it's better. Again, sounds like innovation.

          • by Nerdfest (867930)

            Oh I'm not commenting on the 'innovation', I'm commenting on the potential for what I consider evil behaviour. I consider all software patents invalid. I don't ever recall seeing one where, if the problem at hand was given to a handful of programmers in the field, they'd come up with a solution, and generally the same solution. The way many seem to be worded though, it does not even need to be the same solution implementation to infringe ... many software patents are effectively patenting all solutions to a

    • by pepty (1976012) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @02:52PM (#41251813)
      In most real world bargaining the seller doesn't have a record of the buyers transactions with other sellers.

      .

      While schemes like this may drive up profit margins to some extent, I think the goal for a lot of retailers in using schemes like these is to keep the actual prices paid for products private and in house. The schemes prevent competitors from price matching and destroy comparison shopping sites like Nextag and (oops) Google Shopping, since their robots will no longer be able to collect meaningful prices. All the vendors will think "This way customers will just stay on my site" And that will be true, so long as the vendor is Amazon or Walmart.

      The backlash will be people reporting the prices/discounts they were given for products when they review them. Vendors will respond by deleting that information from the reviews, which will upset their customers who will in turn switch to review aggregator sites like Epinions.com for their reviews, which will in turn be bought by Google, Amazon, or Walmart.

  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday September 06, 2012 @02:22PM (#41251295)

    This guy has bought every Madden game ever: No discount on Madden 13 for him.
    This guy has never bought a Madden game: Give him a $10 discount to incentivize him.

    Sounds great in theory. Sounds ever better in a Google ad pitching the idea. But the reality is that you're about to screw over your biggest fans and supporters. And if they get wind of it, you consequently risk LOSING some of your biggest fans and supporters. Penalizing your fans for being your fans could result in an epic backlash.

    Now there are some fan groups (not mentioning any names here), whose members would probably respond to this kind of abuse with a smile an a "Thank you sir, may I have another?!?" But I imagine most people would be none-to-happy to learn that their loyalty to a product line has been rewarded with a backhanded insult.

    Not to mention the fact that you can bet that some of the more unscrupulous and technically-minded people out there will quickly learn how to game the system.

    BTW, I've never bought a Madden game. Can I get a coupon, EA?

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Or even better/worse, I do not like sports games and I get it $10 off and sell it still sealed for $5 off.

    • by redneckmother (1664119) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @02:40PM (#41251581) Journal

      But the reality is that you're about to screw over your biggest fans and supporters. And if they get wind of it, you consequently risk LOSING some of your biggest fans and supporters. Penalizing your fans for being your fans could result in an epic backlash.

      Amen. I find it extremely frustrating when a service to which I've subscribed (for years!) offers extreme discounts to new customers, but won't help me with access to improved equipment or services [cough] -HughesNet- [cough].

      • by schnell (163007) <me@schnellCOBOL.net minus language> on Thursday September 06, 2012 @11:08PM (#41256471) Homepage

        I find it extremely frustrating when a service to which I've subscribed (for years!) offers extreme discounts to new customers, but won't help me

        Here's the deal. I work for an extremely large megacorporation which essentially has the same policies. Why? Because it's understood that it costs money (in terms of advertising or special deals) to steal a customer from a competitor, whereas keeping an existing customer is a presumption. Do you know why? Because most customers of service providers in even marginally competitive industries - whether that's cellphones, magazine subscriptions, TV service, home security systems, even home grocery delivery services - stay with their current provider ad infinitum unless they get REALLY p***ed off or someone else gives them a really good incentive to change. All these service providers (if they're smart) give you a (financially speaking) EXCESSIVE discount upfront to bring you on board just because it's a pain in the butt (usually) to switch once you've signed up. No evil involved necessarily, just regular consumer inertia.

        So, to get the best deal, you need to get out of being a presumptive renewal for your service provider and become a potential customer loss. As soon as your contract is up, call your service provider and tell them you're cancelling. If they are not brain dead - or unless they're super polite - they will not say "sure, sorry to see you leave us forever." Instead, because these businesses understand that if you leave they will have to lay out those EXACT SAME DISCOUNTS to replace you, you will get them offered to you. It may take a little haggling and an escalation in customer care, but you will eventually get roughly equivalent deals.

        Theoretically it shouldn't be this way in terms of rewarding customer loyalty... but from a bottom line perspective, it's (unfortunately) the logically correct thing to do. If you look at it from the company's perspective, they are "leaving money on the table" with every existing customer to whom they offer the discount who wasn't a risk to leave. Make sense?

    • It's called rent seeking [wikipedia.org].
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>This guy has bought every Madden game ever: No discount on Madden 13 for him.
      >>>This guy has never bought a Madden game: Give him a $10 discount to incentivize him.

      Sounds like a good reason to continue my practice of having four separate browsers (Firefox, Chromium Portable, Opera, and IE). Google has a detailed record of four separate IDs and purchase histories.

      And you're right: It's a way to screw your biggest fans. In theory you end-up paying a 10 dollar extra higher price because

      • Do you use different proxies for each browser? If not, you still have one IP address, probably geolocated (assuming a major ISP), associated with all four browsers. And unless you are very careful to use each browser for different specific tasks, Google probably has built a similar personality profile for each of the four records. So even though you may exist as four different records in Google's database, Google doesn't care whether you are one person or identical quadruplets as long as all four of you hav

    • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @02:51PM (#41251797)

      >>>some of the more unscrupulous and technically-minded people out there will quickly learn how to game the system.

      I acquired a then-new Final Fantasy with $40 "new customer" discount and sold it for $54.50 on ebay. Bought a new gamecube for $49, got the Zelda Collection for free, sold it for $60.

      I setup five accounts with Pizza Hut in order to get a 5 free medium pizza for newbs. And three accounts to get "20% welcome discount" from an online hobby store. In other words YES you are correct.

      • >>>some of the more unscrupulous and technically-minded people out there will quickly learn how to game the system.

        I acquired a then-new Final Fantasy with $40 "new customer" discount and sold it for $54.50 on ebay. Bought a new gamecube for $49, got the Zelda Collection for free, sold it for $60.

        I setup five accounts with Pizza Hut in order to get a 5 free medium pizza for newbs. And three accounts to get "20% welcome discount" from an online hobby store. In other words YES you are correct.

        I disagree - taking advantage of the schemes of incompetent retailers is not unscrupulous behavior, it's capitalism in action. Unless, of course, one subscribes to the philosophy that capitalism itself is inherently evil...

        • by west (39918) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @04:35PM (#41253243)

          More to the point, it's the *opposite* of unscrupulous - the poster is fulfilling his place in the marketplace and the company programs are operating as intended.

          He gets cheap stuff because price is important to him and the company makes some minimal profit, while the rest of us who prefer leisure time to saving a few bucks pay more. These discounts are meant to allow a company to capture both ends of the market at the same time, rather than going with only the low end and making little money, or going with the high-end, and losing a bunch of price sensitive customers.

          Nothing wrong with having a program with a few holes in it, as long as the customers have to work for the discount.

          That said, while price discrimination tends to increase customer satisfaction over all, human logic is dysfunctional enough that many people feel enraged when they learned they paid more than someone else instead of simply enjoying their consumer surplus.

          Kind of like the people who sell a little early in a rising market, making millions, and then when the markets kept going up, become distraught because they could have made many more millions.

        • by HiThere (15173)

          To say that "capitalism itself is inherently evil" is to overstate the case, but it certainly has very strong leanings in that directions, and unless closely regulated by an *independant* regulator it quickly becomes evil. The problem is that the regulators are usually captured by those that they are intended to regulate, i.e., a separation of powers is not properly effected. Such priviledge escalations ARE evil, and quickly lead those who are regulated to also become nearly as evil as they would be if no

          • To say that "capitalism itself is inherently evil" is to overstate the case, but it certainly has very strong leanings in that directions, and unless closely regulated by an *independant* regulator it quickly becomes evil.

            Disagree, to the extent that I always disagree when anyone implies that an inanimate object or idea is capable of expressing human emotions such as evil or greed. Capitalism itself is neither good nor evil - same goes for alternate economic theories such as communism - but can be applied in either a good or evil manner.

            A great example of how capitalism can bring out the best in people would be Henry Ford's labor philosophy. [wikipedia.org] Ford believed that if you paid a fair (to the worker, not the board) wage, you wo

    • This guy has bought every Madden game ever: No discount on Madden 13 for him. This guy has never bought a Madden game: Give him a $10 discount to incentivize him.

      Sounds more like my cable company.

      This guy has been a loyal customer for years, lets double what he pays. This guy has doesn't have cable at all: Give him a $150 discount to incentivize him.

    • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @03:01PM (#41251947)

      Now there are some fan groups (not mentioning any names here), whose members would probably respond to this kind of abuse with a smile an a "Thank you sir, may I have another?!?"
       
      Can the members of these unnamed fan groups please line up in front of Apple stores on September 12th for identification. Thanks!

    • There are plenty of things that I might have bought just to try but couldn't justify the high price. You could also look at this system as offering a discount to disinterested customers such as myself. Hey, he's not really interested but if we offer a discount he might bite.
    • Welcome to the real world. Companies lavish new customers with great deals all the time while denying the same benefits to their current customers. DirecTV will give free HBO to new customers for three months, but not current ones. The same with Verizon. You can call and complain, and they might match or offer you a better deal, but for the rest of the customers, ignorance is bliss.

      Is this unethical? I don't think so. While paying less would be better, you are already paying a price you find acceptable. The

  • Description reads more like a sociology paper to me.
  • by neminem (561346) <neminem@@@gmail...com> on Thursday September 06, 2012 @02:24PM (#41251321) Homepage

    You can patent something truly horrific, then not use your patent or let anyone else use it. Hopefully that's what they're going for here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Ha ha ha ha. I was waiting for the first person to suggest this. Google, the world's greatest data aggregation and advertising company, patents using aggregated data to sell people stuff at the maximum price, and you think they're doing it so it can never be used? Yeah right.

    • And then the patent expires.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>not use your patent or let anyone else use it

      You mean like how Obama promised to never use the NDAA indefinite detention provision, but it will most certaily be used by Romney if elected? Or how Bush promised the U.S.A. P.a.t.r.i.o.t. A.c.t. would only be used to monitor public communications, but when Obama arrived they started demanding private ISP customer records & download histories? POINT: Today google is honest. In a few years they might have a new management team that is not.

    • Er, you cannot prevent anyone from using your patent. You can only sue them for compensation. Most large companies have enough patents, to go on the offensive when sued. So this patent would never prevent Amazon or Microsoft or Google themselves from using it. It does prevent them from being sued if they decided to implement this idea, though.

      • To add to that, the only reason you would patent something in today's world, is to prevent getting sued by patent trolls and to add to you MAD defense. You can never even dream of preventing someone else from using your patent.

  • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @02:25PM (#41251333)

    Not defending anyone that uses this pricing scheme, but what makes people think they have a right to something at any price? A strong sense of entitlement. Anyone familiar with sales knows that the more someone wants something the higher they'll pay. All the complainers are going to have used their own knowledge of someone's desires to benefit themselves sometime in their life, and they'll still remain self-righteous and indignant.

    • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @02:45PM (#41251687) Homepage

      It's not that we expect things at any particular price. It's an expectation of basic fairness: that the store won't quietly double their normal prices just because I'm wearing a suit when I walk in, in the hopes of getting me to pay more than they'd normally charge.

      And I've seen price discrimination backfire. When I lived up in northern Nevada, I remember the story (straight from the cowboy involved) of the scruffy cowboy who'd pulled up to the lot in a rusted-out beater truck and started looking at the expensive trucks. The new salesguy who'd "got stuck with him" tried arguing with him and pushing him towards the used cars. The cowboy was pretty adamant, and finally got mad and left. The salesguy figured no great loss, and he didn't have to deal with the stink of cowpies anymore.

      Next day, the owner called all the salesguys in and called the new guy up front to congratulate him. On costing the dealership the sale of 15 brand-new pick-up trucks to a ranch's fleet. Plus loss of the maintenance on that ranch's fleet. Oh, and the loss of all business from one of the local drilling companies. Turns out, that scruffy cowboy? Was the owner of the ranch and drilling company in question. He'd just come in from helping fix a broken truck and bringing in some cows that'd gotten out, and was looking to replace all his trucks before he had more breakdowns. He was driving the beater truck because that was the one available to run out and take care of the problem, and he'd decided if that was the way he was going to be treated then he'd just take all his business somewhere where they had better manners. Oops.

      Now imagine the owner of your company listening to a couple of his friends complain that when they went to buy something for their kids from his company, they were seeing prices a lot higher than what they knew other people were paying, and they weren't happy about it. Do you think the owner's going to be happy with you for getting his friends mad at him because of this new pricing scheme? Didn't think so.

      • Its was drilled into us at Tandy Corps retail locations always always LISTEN to your customer ASK open ended questions PROPOSE a solution (ask for the order) OVERCOME objections (ask for the order) SELL the addons CLOSE the sale.

        if this guy was Tandy Trained he would have sat that guy down called the manager for backup sold 20 trucks (with the Service Plan) and a truck load of Floor Mats /Cargo|Tool Boxes and then taken the next three days Off.

      • by Jiro (131519)

        The reason that companies treat rich customers better is that on average, doing so will get more profit than allocating their limited attention and resources to scruffy-looking customers. The fact that one particular scruffy-looking customer would have brought them more profit doesn't mean that this is an unprofitable policy on average; a particular policy may make more money at some times and less at others, and in the long run, the loss to this scruffy-looking customer will be more than balanced by an e

    • but what makes people think they have a right to something at any price?

      What makes you think that people think that?

      But they do have a right to not buy something. And if they don't like this practice, they probably shouldn't. Stores can charge whatever they want, but hopefully people resist this.

      • Stores can charge whatever they want, but hopefully people resist this.

        This is a misconception. Example: on September 11, 2001, several local gas stations quadrupled their fuel prices. On September 12, 2001, those same gas stations were shuttered by government agents for illegal price fixing.

        So no, stores cannot 'charge whatever they want.'

    • "All the complainers are going to have used their own knowledge of someone's desires to benefit themselves sometime in their life, and they'll still remain self-righteous and indignant."

      But it's not the same thing.

      I can use my knowledge of someone else's desire in a negotiation. And I might come out ahead thereby. But it's not the same thing. That is negotiation. This scheme is not. They give you a price, and that's it. You aren't negotiating, and you can't talk it down. It's take-it-or-leave-it.

      • by lgw (121541)

        No, that's just the simplest form of negotiation. If you're not willing to walk away without a sal/purchase, you're not actually negotiating.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      That's how markets used to work. You paid whatever the store owner feels like charging you, and it varied according to who you were.

      Then new retailers like James Penney, Sears & Roebuck, and Montgomery Wards arrived on the scene with fixed prices attached to merchandise. Everyone paid the same regardless of who they were.

      Neither method is the "correct" way of doing things but the new way drove the old way out of business during the 1920s. The "same price for everyone" stores came to dominate the U.S

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        That's how markets used to work. You paid whatever the store owner feels like charging you, and it varied according to who you were.

        Then new retailers like James Penney, Sears & Roebuck, and Montgomery Wards arrived on the scene with fixed prices attached to merchandise. Everyone paid the same regardless of who they were.

        Neither method is the "correct" way of doing things but the new way drove the old way out of business during the 1920s. The "same price for everyone" stores came to dominate the U.S.

        Pri

        • by Kjella (173770)

          You're simply not being creative enough. For example you could use this on bundles - sure you might know what A, B and C costs individually, but if you're on product A's page and get an offer for a bundle, that's pretty hard to compare. You probably don't want to offer the exact same bundle at different prices, but there's a huge set of possible bundles so you'll rarely reuse them. Or you can just "classify" your customers so your good customers are offered one set of bundles and your less good customers di

      • An efficient market requires that goods and prices be known commodities.

        Schemes like this one are, by definition, attempts to make the market less efficient by profiting from degrading the quality of information available. That people are defending it on "property rights" grounds shows that aristocracy still has a large following, even though it is a less efficient social economic arrangement.

    • by zzsmirkzz (974536)

      Not defending anyone that uses this pricing scheme, but what makes people think they have a right to something at any price?

      They don't - you just made that up. They think they have a right not to be discriminated against and I happen to agree. If a purple-man (not to start a race war) walked into your store you can't charge him double what you charged the blue-man that just left your store. You can adjust the price for everybody if the demand/supply equation changes but not for a single person or class of people.

    • by VAElynx (2001046)
      Correct, you don't have a right to something at some price, unless you are granted one (it's called price regulation).
      However, that's not the question here. The question here is whether the sellers should a) be allowed to exploit the fact that they can get information about your past transactions, and you can't easily get information on *their* past transactions. and b) whether they should be allowed to essentially set a price, then do "take it or leave it" ,without you ever being able to haggle back. Thi
  • by nluv4hs (1422261) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @02:28PM (#41251381)
    This is merely a new way to implement a ubiquitous and venerable concept: price discrimination [wikipedia.org]. There is hardly a thing in the world that some man can not make a little worse and sell a little cheaper.
    • This kind of price discrimination only works becasue the product is digital. Being able to buy from the guy getting the lower price is how this is avoided with physical goods. The solution is not prevent price descrimination. The solution is to allow resale of digital goods.
  • The one titled "keeping custom^H^H^H^H^H^Hsuckers from realizing they've been fleeced and getting mad at you"?

  • Seriously. Enough troll headlines about X company patenting Y. Let us know when Google or any other company aggressively uses patent trolling to stymie a competitor. Or when any of these evil privacy invading money grabbing kitten torturing patents actually end up being implemented. Companies patent anything and everything now, it doesn't mean your most FUD imagination of its worst scariest implementation will come true tomorrow. When it does, let us know. Until then, give it a rest.

  • Something is worth what someone is willing to pay for it.
    If a vendor knows who is willing to pay what, they can improve profits while maximizing sales.

    Hell, if I had a store and could identify people willing to pay more for my goods, I'd charge them more too.
    • by zzsmirkzz (974536)

      Hell, if I had a store and could identify people willing to pay more for my goods, I'd charge them more too.

      And I wouldn't be surprised if you got sued for doing so. Discrimination is bad, mmkay.

      • Hell, if I had a store and could identify people willing to pay more for my goods, I'd charge them more too.

        And I wouldn't be surprised if you got sued for doing so. Discrimination is bad, mmkay.

        Sued, arrested for committing felonies in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, [wikipedia.org] ya know, whatever...

  • evil? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yakasha (42321) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @02:30PM (#41251423) Homepage
    It takes advantage of people not knowledgeable about what they're doing.

    Personally, I consider that evil. It is why I quit my job working for a payday loan company. They prey on poor, stupid people.

    However, technically, it can also lead to lower prices for some people. If the real price is slightly too high for you, they'll lower it for you without losing money on every single sale and the lowered price will probably make you inclined to come back... at which point the price will probably go back up and like everything else just fluctuate like a pendulum.

    And legally... I think it falls in line with what is accepted practice. Businesses have always fluctuated their prices based on consumer demand. This just lets them get more personal.

    • Personally, I consider that evil. It is why I quit my job working for a payday loan company. They prey on poor, stupid people.

      Yet, there is a telling shortage of banks and other businesses willing make short term loans to those poor, stupid people at a lower rate than the payday loan companies charge. It may seem that they are "preying" on these people, even the payday loan companies might secretly think they are, but in reality they are just serving their market by offering the best deal availabl

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @02:33PM (#41251453) Homepage

    It still is considered evil, at least by customers. The people interested in doing this just hope the customers won't figure out what's up. Fat chance of that in this interconnected world. It won't take long for people to compare notes and find out about variations in pricing with no explicable reason for them (no coupon or discount codes used or anything like that). And once people notice, word will spread like wildfire. As will customer dissatisfaction, and people will shift to vendors who simply offer a straight-up price without trying to play games.

    • by alexgieg (948359)

      ... and people will shift to vendors who simply offer a straight-up price without trying to play games.

      Unfortunately that doesn't happen. A few people will, but most won't care, as the trouble of changing habits most often than not outweighs small annoyances. Besides, there are tons of people out there who enjoy the challenge of gaming the system when purchasing. I remember reading about an US retail chain who tried playing straight prices (sorry, I don't remember its name), lost tons of money, and had to revert to crazy pricing schemes (bundles, coupons, rebates, loss leaders, special days for this or that

      • It didn't work for Saturn either. They had a strict no-haggle, what-you-see-is-what-you-pay pricing system at their dealerships. Turns out people like to haggle when buying cars, even if they end up paying no less than the MSRP anyway. They still feel like they got a deal, and that's what is important to them.
    • I find it interesting that people notice this with prices and often compare but don't compare other information. For example you could get slightly edited news footage or film footage with a different theme or message. I would certainly be interested in supporting efforts to check for this kind of manipulation or it will someday be put in place.
  • I cannot say what is motivating this patent however just because you apply for a patent doesn't mean you intent to implement it. This should be obvious from all the trolls out there. If someone desires to prevent an "evil" invention from being unleashed on the world having a patent on it would be a means of preventing others from doing so.

    Dreaming up and patenting evil inventions to prevent others from creating them may well have saved us from a good number of woes we are now dealing with such as DRM, rob

  • Maybe the Giants will come down to Google HQ with baseball bats and break some windows. They've been using dynamic pricing at AT&T Park for a while now.

  • by Wowsers (1151731) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @02:35PM (#41251483) Journal

    No wonder the US economy is tanking when all companies do are applying for and being granted stupid patents like thiis, and most the world don't care about these kind of patents anyway.

  • But I have a tendency to put stuff in a cart and not buy it right away.

    I wonder if that works in my favor?

    I'm their worst nightmare, I only buy when I can afford to, not when I feel like getting a credit card and buying stuff I can't afford.

    • But I have a tendency to put stuff in a cart and not buy it right away.

      I wonder if that works in my favor?

      No, if the price changes (up or down), they update it in the cart as well. But they do give you a notification of the price change.

    • by ccguy (1116865)

      But I have a tendency to put stuff in a cart and not buy it right away.

      I wonder if that works in my favor?

      Maybe once. But once they notice most likely they'll increase the price of in-cart items a bit every day, to rush you into buying.

      Anyway I wouldn't worry much about this technology. They're still playing cat & mouse with SEO (and losing) so it won't take long before it's possible to figure out what the absolute lowest price is and how to get it. So this could backfire.

    • But I have a tendency to put stuff in a cart and not buy it right away.

      I wonder if that works in my favor?

      It did actually, right up until you made those keyword searches for fois gras and expensive german automobiles. Double-Click (and by extension Google or any of their paid advertisers) sees all.

      This clearly means Google does not find that behavior evil, leading me to wonder what other things they consider 'not evil'. Is charging differential pricing evil? Is censoring search results evil? How about

      • by KiloByte (825081)

        Double-Click (and by extension Google or any of their paid advertisers) sees all.

        Just use a browser that doesn't cripple privacy features, and adblock ad and tracking sites. As about any advertising is from third-party domains, a sane referer policy will help against bastards you missed, too. Also, it's quite vital to block Google's click jacking (go to 2nd page of results or amend your query, note the URL of a link, then with mouse still over the link, click and watch the URL changing). And so on, so on...

  • by medcalf (68293) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @02:37PM (#41251527) Homepage
    Don't be mumble mumble.
  • Pay? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Harold Halloway (1047486) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @02:39PM (#41251573)

    'watching a video recording, reading an electronic book, playing a game, or listening to an audio recording.'

    People pay to do these things? Who knew?

  • Google Bot #1: "The cpu6502 dude went to amazon. Let's show him book & TV ads and jackup the prices."
    Bot #2: "Yeah but he didn't buy anything. He opened a second tab and searched isohunt for free downloads."
    #1: "Dangit...... no wait he likes music! Look at all the songs he listens to...."
    #2: "Yeah on Free radio and youtube. He never buys anything.... last week he downloaded the Hot 100 of 2011."
    #1: "Bummer..... oh look! He just surfed over to cheapassgamer and bought a game..... (sigh). Never min

  • Amazon tried this a few years ago and when customers found out they threw a shitfit.

    And whatever happened to Do No Evil? I hope Amazon gives 'em hell over it, even they didn't bother to patent this and they patented the one-click purchase.

  • That's an ancient practice!
  • Recently I have been thinking about causes of piracy and I believe a big factor that contributes to piracy is the fixed retail prices of goods. In many countries today, haggling is common and it allows the buyer and seller to come to an agreement on price based on the interest of a single buyer acquiring the item and a single seller collecting money for the item. However, in many western countries, goods are available at a single price and you can take it or leave it. For those who do not believe that a
    • by VAElynx (2001046)
      Uhh.. this isn't haggling, because there, you can yourself make an offer, and you argue it out with the seller.
      This is a worse screwup than fixed pricing.
  • The "As Seen on TV" channel...

    Seriously, hasn't this been done by every pan salesmen at a farm faire? Every merchant at a bazar?

    ***

    I am patenting "Expressive Expoundings of Thoughts". I now own EETs. All of your posts violate my EET patent. Please pay me $0.02 per post. Thank you.

  • ... VPN services within Scotland show sudden, explosive growth.

  • I've been doing this for a long time with a shop I own. I jack up the prices for anyone who's not white.

    People don't seem to like it very much.
  • by TigerPlish (174064) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @03:30PM (#41252341)

    our search history and social networking activity can be used against you by providing tell-tale clues for your propensity to pay jacked-up prices to 'reconsume' electronic content, such as 'watching a video recording, reading an electronic book, playing a game, or listening to an audio recording.'

    Surely, RIAA / MPAA's wettest dream.

    I hope against hope Google patents this and then makes it so it's impossible or impractical to license, while vigorously suing into oblivion anyone who dares try it without license. Otherwise, Google just became as evil as any other ordinary Evil Enterprise.

    This whole "streaming" and "cloud" thing is just setting us up for robbery. Worse than we are now, I mean. I can see content one's already bought held hostage for further payment. That's what these assholes want, you know. They want it so every single time you read a book that you already bought you have to pay for it. Wait -- didn't someone already try this some time ago? DIVX. Failed, didn't it... it'll be easier to make it stick once all the content's in "the cloud."

    Can you imagine? A Blu-Ray one already purchased requiring further payment every time one wishes to view it? That's why they want to do away with physical media, you know. They want this. It's that kind of thinking that makes me think physical media must remain the primary method of distribution. Files in a cloud are too easy to arbitrarily delete, too easy to control, too easy to hold for ransom. With physical, if you want my copy of Brave back, you're going to have to bust into my house, survive whatever punishment greets you when you do, and then make off with the movie.

    Every time I read crap like this, I become more disillusioned with this modern world. I don't yearn for days gone by, what I want is for people to wake the fuck right up and say "enough with the gouging and pocket-picking, nickle-and-diming and outright robbery already!"

    Heh. Fat chance. I know.

  • Anyone else see the irony in Google patenting something Apple has been doing for decades?

  • by PPH (736903) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @03:35PM (#41252425)

    Airline tickets.

    What Google is doing will drive the creation of dozens of startup businesses, all aimed at gaming the Google system.

    • Airline tickets.

      What Google is doing will drive the creation of dozens of startup businesses, all aimed at gaming the Google system.

      So, what you're saying, it's good for the enconomy? (:-)

      Seriously, the Airlines already do this, and there's good money to be made writing articles and books telling people how to get around it, and several websites that "help" people get the best deals. Then the airline buy off the sites, and prices go up. Then new sites get created, and new books written. Rinse, lather, repeat.

  • I thought that was done.

  • by WaffleMonster (969671) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @05:18PM (#41253673)

    I looked into this years ago thinking about schemes to use public data such as home values to set different prices. What I learned was this is illegal.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robinson-Patman_Act [wikipedia.org]

    I don't know if discounting can be used to effectivly circumvent either the federal or any similar state laws.. my guess anyone actually doing this is leaving themselves open for actions for discriminatory practice in at least some jurisdictions.

    It is amazing anyone could be granted a patent on such an obvious endeavour with prior art stemming from the dawn of industry. Whats next patenting "dynamic pricing" within a tourist trap while a cruise ship is in port?

    If such a system were deployed wouldn't people just create accounts where they act as if they are piss poor to get the lowest possible price? Machine algorithms are exceptionally poor at reasoning and dealing with false information.

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