The rumor mill has been all atwitter about a link from Seeqpod's newly sparse home page to the search page for Microsoft's Web site. (Not to be confused with Live Search, Microsoft's Internet search engine.)
Seeqpod was a playable search engine for music files--essentially, its crawlers scoured Web sites looking for MP3 files, then it transformed those MP3s into streamable audio files. It offered its own user-facing Web page, as well as APIs for third-party sites, and was used as the back-end for Songerize (which no longer works) and Bandloop. After being hit by copyright infringement lawsuits … Read more
Microsoft confirmed Thursday that it has acquired Seattle-based Farecast, a travel site that offers an engine predicting whether airfares for a given route are headed up or down.
"Farecast has been a partner of ours on MSN Travel and we look forward to working closely with the Farecast team to incorporate and apply its technology in new and interesting ways," Microsoft PR director Whitney Burk said in a statement.
The travel site's CEO, Hugh Crean, also posted a brief blog on Farecast's site announcing the sale to Microsoft, but adding few details.
"This acquisition creates … Read more
Farecast, the site that tells you when to buy your airline tickets to get the best price, has finally added international routes to its service. This feature would have been great back before the dollar took its tumble against world currencies, and a family dinner in Paris didn't cost $300. (See: Farecast: Out of beta, but still U.S.-only.)
The data on the service appears to be filling out slowly. While there is historical pricing for the airfares of US-Europe and US-Mexico/Caribbean city pairs, the actual fare predictions are not all there. I tried to price a … Read more
One of our favorite sites, the airfare prediction site Farecast, is spreading its wings today and launching a beta pricing service for hotels as well. The service works for the top 30 U.S. travel destinations.
Using hotel inventory data from partner sites Orbitz, Cheaptickets, and ReserveTravel, as well as from its own historical database, Farecast can now tell you which hotels in the area you're looking to book are good deals, and which are not. And, just as it does with airfares, Farecast can tell you which hotels' prices are likely to be better if you change the … Read more
Microsoft has been pretty busy today, adding two third-party services to its consumer and business brands. The first is a new integration with Farecast [coverage] on MSN's travel site. Users get a new module, containing airfare predictions and deals, that offers a listing of cheap airfares as well as an airport finder. Instead of jettisoning you out to Farecast's site, it will open up right inside of MSN--similar to opening up an app in Facebook.
Vayama is a new airfare-ticket-finding service the likes of Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity. However, instead of focusing on domestic travel, Vayama is marketing itself as a provider for international flights. The service is also beginning to build what looks like a people-powered travel tips section to help newbie travelers with the post-airport journey into foreign cities that can often be confusing.
To begin any travel search, users can enter their data as usual, or use Vayama's neat touch-and-go map, which lets you zoom into various parts of the world to select arrival and departure cities. The map is powered by Microsoft Virtual Earth and is a nice way to see where airports are geographically located without having to look them up elsewhere. Each airport's dot is also proportionately sized for how big it is in real life. Large international airports such as LAX and JFK have big dots, whereas some of the stateside and municipal airports get tiny ones.
Once you've found your tickets, you can pick out your seat with Vayama's seat finder, which is presented in a slightly angled 3-D image. Seat finders for plane travel is certainly nothing new, but it's fairly simple to visually see the open and full seats--and even cooler to click an open seat and see yourself appear.
Before buying any tickets, you can also do some brief research on any city, which will show you how much it costs (in U.S. dollars) to get to and from the airport, as well as around selected cities using private or public transportation. To make those numbers a little more accurate, Vayama is building out its own people-powered reviews network, where users can dish on city information in exchange for discount credits on airfare.
In my brief testing this afternoon, some of the fares I searched for were very competitive with those I found on some of the major providers. Vayama was also a little faster in the search, although not nearly as comprehensive as my personal favorite flight-finder, Kayak.com, which found the lowest prices of the bunch.One of the big things missing is a way to check if you're currently getting the best deal on your ticket, or whether it's worth waiting for a price drop; something you can do with Farecast, although not for international flights. Like any Internet shopping experience, ticket services like this are useful, but it never hurts to check the competition--especially when their mascots are gnomes and William Shatner.
To see a shot of the 3-D seat finder, keep reading.… Read more
Airline price predictor Farecast is officially out of beta today. We've covered the service before and think it's great. New features that have been recently added include FareGuard, which lets you buy insurance on FareCast's predictions (the company claims "predictive accuracy of 74.5 percent"), a "flight quality" selector that lets you eliminate nasty red-eyes from your predictions, an alert feature that will e-mail you when the cost of a ticket to a destination you desire appears at or below a price you specify, and my favorite newish feature, a grid that shows … Read more
Wipbox is a relatively new service that helps people sell things on Craigslist and eBay. Wipbox charges a small fee to help you put together a really slick-looking listing and figure out some of the subtle aspects of getting an item to sell quickly based on what category and service it's listed in. If you've ever wanted to sell something on either of the two classifieds services but have been unsure about a good starting price or the best way to convey the product information, Wipbox does the heavy lifting for you.
To get started quickly, you can do a search for your item. It's not free at $0.25 a pop, but it gives you the starting and closing costs for your item in various categories (for eBay) or locales (for Craigslist). For example, if you're here in San Francisco, your item might fetch more money in surrounding neighborhoods. Likewise, on eBay, putting it in a different category can dramatically improve the closing price. You're paying Wipbox to do the legwork.
In testing, we came across some skewed numbers for certain search items. For eBay, it was likely due to auctioneers incorrectly labeling their items or adding extra words to their titles to boost search engine presence. For Craigslist, we ran into problems with the search grouping together multiple SKUs. For example, a search for an Xbox 360 pulled in results with a difference of about a hundred dollars due to the system having two versions, each at a different price. For popular items such as iPods though, drilling down to the specific model number helped with these issues.
Wipbox bases its statistics on 30 days of eBay listings, and a full week of Craigslist sales, so whatever information you're getting is fairly current for market value. To find general price ranges for online auctions, there's also Mpire, a service that tracks auction prices on eBay to show you whether or not it's in demand--a little bit like Farecast does for airplane tickets.
The real catch to using Wipbox is its listing creator. Wipbox will pull in a description, user reviews, and specifics from Amazon.com. You can either pay $0.15 to have this information posted straight to your listing, or copy and paste the code field by field into eBay or Craigslist's listing creation box for free. … Read more
Farecast, an airline ticket prediction and purchasing service, has launched a new Deals section that helps people find the best prices on tickets within a 90-day window. Unlike the recently launched Fare Guard, the Deals section is completely free and competes with other discount travel sites like TravelZoo and CheapTickets to aggregate flights that sell for a fraction of their typical cost. The service is currently limited to 38 major airports in the United States.
The search results are separated by the best deals, last-minute flights, weekend and weeklong flights, and flights for families. There's also a section for … Read more