Computer agents that scour the Net for the best shopping deals were the talk of the town a year ago but most failed to deliver on their promise. One that perservered was Netbot, a Web start-up whose Jango technology has now been bought by US search engine Excite and underpins the Excite Shopping Channel. Jango is based on a Web navigation approach called "Parallel Pull." In conventional pull users type a URL or click on a link and his or her browser and displays a single Web page. In contrast, with "Parallel Pull" a user types a high-level request, such as a product name, and is brought information in parallel from 20 or more relevant sites. With Jango, you enter the name of a product you're shopping for and Jango determines which stores and information sites are relevant. It then consults those sites and prepares reports for the shopper including such things as detailed product information, comparative reviews, product pricing, and manufacturers' specifications. When enough stores come on-line, Jango should come into its own. www.jango.excite.com/cf/index.html.
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