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Buy Now or Wait For a Sale? Let the Computer Decide


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Microsoft's Prodcast is designed to calculate the future prices of products based on factors such as price history, sales volume, and the time of year.

Photo courtesy of thenextweb.com

Microsoft researchers have developed Prodcast, a tool that helps consumers decide whether to buy a new product now or wait for prices to fall.

Prodcast is designed to calculate the future prices of products based on factors such as price history, sales volume, and the time of year. The team applied Prodcast to the three baseline purchasing strategies: always buy right away, always wait, or randomly choose between the two. The system saved consumers an average of 5 percent of the cost of a product compared to all three baselines, except for those who were particularly patient or impatient. The researchers found that it was always better to wait or buy for them, respectively.

The researchers say that existing price-comparison Web sites, which only suggest where consumers should make purchases, could be integrated with the technology. The system also could be improved to determine the best time to make purchases at multiple points in time, rather than just the immediate future.

From New Scientist
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