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Google Patents Profit-Maximizing Dynamic Pricing

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the what-the-market-will-bare dept.

Google 294

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 Should Stop Abusing Patent System (2)

Mr. Visual (2724357) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251277)

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.

Re:Google Should Stop Abusing Patent System (1)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251305)

Its procedural?

Re:Google Should Stop Abusing Patent System (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251403)

I can't help but wonder how the Sherman AntiTrust Act can be applied here?

Re:Google Should Stop Abusing Patent System (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251575)

I can't help but wonder how the Sherman AntiTrust Act can be applied here?

I'm pretty sure that by the time this patent is tested the Sherman act will have been disposed of by free market worshiping congress critters. If the public is dumb enough to vote in favour of twisted tort reform laws that disenfranchise the public and make it easier for corporations to screw the public over then I'm sure the demise of the Sherman act will be accompanied by thunderous applause, especially from voters on the right wing.

Re:Google Should Stop Abusing Patent System (2)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251619)

Bait and switch.

Google should be ashamed.

Oh, right.

Re:Google Should Stop Abusing Patent System (2, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251659)

Huh? Antitrust is about eliminating competition. It has nothing to do with competing more effectively.

Re:Google Should Stop Abusing Patent System (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251327)

This is what about 50% of patents are these days. X + over wi-fi. X + handheld device. X + touch interface.

Re:Google Should Stop Abusing Patent System (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251431)

how about you stop with the shill system?

Re:Google Should Stop Abusing Patent System (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251451)

bah ment to reply to original post

Re:Google Should Stop Abusing Patent System (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251443)

Google, you've changed.

They have? You know something we don't?

Re:Google Should Stop Abusing Patent System (3, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251617)

Google, you've changed.

They have? You know something we don't?

I've changed, too. I'm applying for a patent on Unpredictable Weasel with my chaotic buying habits. I'm certain to cause a divide by 0 at some point in their algorithm. You'll know it happens when their main site goes down.

Re:Google Should Stop Abusing Patent System (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251607)

Given how hard trolls like Apple are slamming companies without sufficiently large patent profiles, Google needs to be able to defend itself. If it sues anyone over this sort of bullshit except in self defense you have a case. As it stands, failure to patent this would be stupid.

Re:Google Should Stop Abusing Patent System (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41252417)

Yeah because the the thing you need to fix a broken overload patent system full of ridiculous patents is more ridiculous patents.

Re:Google Should Stop Abusing Patent System (2)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251613)

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?

Re:Google Should Stop Abusing Patent System (4, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251671)

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,...

Re:Google Should Stop Abusing Patent System (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252383)

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 data they have .. quite Evil, in my generally less than completely informed opinion.

It doesn't look promising, but at least if they do start using it now, people will likely be keeping an eye out for this sort of 'price adjustment'.

Re:Google Should Stop Abusing Patent System (4, Interesting)

pepty (1976012) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Translation: "Milk Your Biggest Fans" (4, Informative)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#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?

Re:Translation: "Milk Your Biggest Fans" (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251331)

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

Re:Translation: "Milk Your Biggest Fans" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251519)

You're biggest fans are not the people who buy the most games.

It is closer to the ratio of how many games they buy to their level of disposable income.
Either this or maybe simply the amount of time a person spends playing a game.

I know a lot of people with high paying jobs that buy lots of games (because they can), and play them once or even never because they don't have the time, due to their career and family commitments. I would hardly call this kind of a person a bigger fan than a kid who saves all summer to buy 1 game that he subsequently plays all the time.

Re:Translation: "Milk Your Biggest Fans" (3, Insightful)

redneckmother (1664119) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251581)

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].

Re:Translation: "Milk Your Biggest Fans" (2)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251681)

It's called rent seeking [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Translation: "Milk Your Biggest Fans" (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251713)

>>>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 you happen to like (and buy) a lot of Madden games. Or in my case: Lots of RPGs.

Re:Translation: "Milk Your Biggest Fans" (3, Funny)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Translation: "Milk Your Biggest Fans" (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252215)

>>>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...

Re:Translation: "Milk Your Biggest Fans" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251805)

Wireless carriers in the US pull this all the time. "Offer valid for new customers only"
What? You're already our customer? We've already suckered you in a 2 year agreement. Hahahha! Fuck off!

Re:Translation: "Milk Your Biggest Fans" (1)

realisticradical (969181) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251901)

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.

Re:Translation: "Milk Your Biggest Fans" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41252067)

Actually, here's a little known fact. Did you know you can negotiate with your cable company over the price of your cable? I do it every year. Just call them up and tell them you want to cancel your service. They'll hem and haw at first. But the more you stand firm, the more great new deals will miraculously appear. I should be paying about $110 for my cable at normal rates. Each year, I get them down to about $80 (with special deals and discounts). Last year they even threw in HBO for free. It takes some patience and resilience, though. Expect to spend up to an hour on the phone with them. Expect them to lead with a shitty offer and give every inch of ground reluctantly. But no one should EVER be paying full price. That's like walking into a car dealership and handing them the sticker price in cash.

Re:Translation: "Milk Your Biggest Fans" (4, Funny)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 2 years ago | (#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!

It can work the other way too. (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252247)

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.

Patent Application? (2)

doubleplusungodly (1929514) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251309)

Description reads more like a sociology paper to me.

The good side of software patents (5, Interesting)

neminem (561346) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251321)

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:The good side of software patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251463)

It is possible that's just protection in case they get sued by amazon or some other content provider like apple or MS who happen to be employing this approach at the time of the lawsuit.

Has google actually been on the initiating end of a lawsuit?

Re:The good side of software patents (2, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251733)

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.

Re:The good side of software patents (1)

coldfarnorth (799174) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251993)

And then the patent expires.

Re:The good side of software patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41252027)

Unfortunately I can't patent politics anymore, can I?
No?
And what about religion?
Also no?
How about reality TV?
Right out, you say?

Awww...

Re:The good side of software patents (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252123)

>>>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.

Re:The good side of software patents (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252179)

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.

Re:The good side of software patents (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252309)

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.

Don't be evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251323)

Don't be evil

Not defending them, (3, Insightful)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not defending them, (5, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251687)

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.

Re:Not defending them, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41252167)

expectation of basic fairness

Soo.... basically socialism. Here's a clue for all you statists: If you want to prevent corporations from profiting off their customers, then you can expect to LOSE JOBS and have a LOWER standard of living. There is no alternative for having a functional system of capital.

Never Never NEVER assume (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252191)

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.

Re:Not defending them, (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251791)

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.

Re:Not defending them, (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252369)

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.'

Re:Not defending them, (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251911)

"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.

Re:Not defending them, (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251943)

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.

Re:Not defending them, (1)

zzsmirkzz (974536) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252043)

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.

Re:Not defending them, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41252431)

Decoupling of supply and demand theory.

Free markets for pimps and dealers.

Profiteering (1)

biggaijin (126513) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251371)

This is not negotiation, as happens during bartering. It is the worst sort of "grab whatever this particular sucker will pay" profiteering. When I see a price posted on an online shopping site, I have a reasonable expectation that everyone else viewing the same page will see the same price. Apparently, this is not true at present. How can we stop these characters from gouging us?

Re:Profiteering (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251649)

The question is, how can we use this to our advantage to get better prices? Is it possible to create a fake profile in order to obtain a discount. They'll stop doing this stuff once they realize too many people are gaming the system. I know people who do this all the time with online deals. Netflix first month is free. Sign up every month with a different credit card. I hear that those prepaid Visa cards work great. You don't maintain a profile, so they don't recommend good movies but you can still watch whatever you want. You can use the Visa gift card to buy something else like groceries. I could easily name many other such ways to take advantage of various websites. If an online store is going to gouge you as a longtime customer just don't buy stuff without creating an account, or create a new account every couple of months so they can't build up a profile. A little harder to do with things like iTunes or Google Play store, but it could probably be done.

price discrimination a.k.a. price differentiation (3, Insightful)

nluv4hs (1422261) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:price discrimination a.k.a. price differentiati (2)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251499)

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.

Where's the companion patent (2)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251383)

The one titled "keeping custom^H^H^H^H^H^Hsuckers from realizing they've been fleeced and getting mad at you"?

Give it a rest. (1)

dell623 (2021586) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251417)

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.

I don't see how this is terrible (2)

JaimeZX (780523) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251421)

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.

Re:I don't see how this is terrible (1)

zzsmirkzz (974536) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252075)

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.

Re:I don't see how this is terrible (1)

JaimeZX (780523) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252319)

Why? I can charge you different prices for cash/credit. So I already know you're willing to pay different prices for the same goods. Now if you come in all Mr. T wearing 99 gold chains and a T-shirt that says "I ALWAYS NEED MORE BLANG" and I have a gold chain shop, there's a good chance that my prices are going up to what I think you'll pay.

'Course, I'm a big fan of haggling as much as possible, too.

evil? (3, Insightful)

Yakasha (42321) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251423)

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.

Re:evil? (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252197)

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 available. If someone else could offer a better deal and attract these customers and still turn a profit, they would.

*Was* considered evil? (2)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251453)

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.

Re:*Was* considered evil? (1)

alexgieg (948359) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251807)

... 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, points and all that other crap) a few months ago mostly for those reasons.

Yet people still give me weird looks (0)

future assassin (639396) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251455)

when they find out I don't belong to any social networks. I'd rather be unknown with no social life than some $$$$$$$$$$$$$ generating product number for some corporation.

Re:Yet people still give me weird looks (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251509)

when they find out I don't belong to any social networks. I'd rather be unknown with no social life than some $$$$$$$$$$$$$ generating product number for some corporation.

So your prices will start at the high end of the spectrum...

Preventing Evil (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251471)

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, robo-callers, etc..

San Francisco Giants (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251473)

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.

Useless patents (2)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251483)

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.

Amazon juggles prices... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251495)

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.

Re:Amazon juggles prices... (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251569)

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.

Re:Amazon juggles prices... (1)

ccguy (1116865) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251585)

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.

Re:Amazon juggles prices... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251705)

Yeah, I thought I noticed this too.

If you browse some items, and then go back and load one into your cart, you might find that the discount on some of the other ones mysteriously reduced from what you just noticed, especially if they are similar in the sense of "people who purchased X have also bought Y".

Re:Amazon juggles prices... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41252087)

Airlines already do this... browse for a price for airfare... close your browser... browse for the same airfare again... magically it's more expensive. Never close your browser if you have any real chance of purchasing the ticket.

Re:Amazon juggles prices... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251933)

Lol. Yeah. You regularly give them money. SUCH an nightmare you are!

I'm pretty nice, compared to you. I only pay money for a worthless fraudulent copy that did not take a single bit of work... let me check my calendar... NEVER!

Re:Amazon juggles prices... (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251959)

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 raising the dark lord Nyarlathotep?

Re:Amazon juggles prices... (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252263)

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...

New Google Motto (3, Funny)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251527)

Don't be mumble mumble.

Pay? (3, Funny)

Harold Halloway (1047486) | more than 2 years ago | (#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?

Dynamic pricing is a new word for and old concept (1)

kye4u (2686257) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251583)

This dynamic pricing idea is an extension of something that have been practiced by merchants for a very long time. Dynamic pricing is just price discrimination among different types of customers.

One method to discriminate is in favor of the most loyal customers. Airlines and hotels are examples of businesses that provide loyalty reward points that can be redeemed for discounts and fringe benefits.

Another method is to discriminate in favor of least loyal or new customers. Cable companies like Comcast do this. Here is how. They offer ridiculously low discounts for their cable packages for first time customers for the first x amount of months. The customers that threaten to leave, which would be the least loyal customers, are offered discounts on their current plans and packages if they stay. The people who don't get any discount are the most loyal. In fact, they can expect their cable bill to increase each month for channels/services that they don't really need or want.

Re:Dynamic pricing is a new word for and old conce (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251909)

As a drug dealer, I became very familiar with this concept.

I used to buy pot by the pound, and then sell it by the oz or quarter oz. My price was always changing, based on supplier, quantity etc.

At first, I tried to "pass the savings on to my customers". I would tell people "Well i paid less for this, so, its less" or "I paid more, so this one I have to charge more for". However, the price I paid was divorced from the real quality. Sometimes you pay more for better, sometimes its not as good.

One thing that became apparent was that people factored price into their considerations in ways that I never expected. I got some exceptional stuff for a great price. It was normally $400/oz stuff, but I got it so cheap, I could sell for $350 and be fine, so I set a price in the middle.... but for one of my better customers, I wanted to be nice, plus I was cuffing to him, and so I wanted to try and get him to make a bit more and maybe transition to paying upfront.

So I say to him... "this is primo stuff, but I got a discount myself so I can sell you it at $350.". He looked at it, smelled it, then asked if there was anything else, and turned it down! I was shocked! I was certain that he would LOVE this stuff!

The very next week, when he came back, I showed him the same bag and told him it was $400. He sniffed it...his eyes went wide, and he immediately picked up an oz, even came back a few days later to tell me how great it was, and asking if I had more! (I never tried to give him a discount again).

I had stuff that was cheaper, and I was offering up for $330, then dropped to $300.... nobody would touch it...while pounds of product came in and went out at $400 an oz

as for anyone thinking this sounds like a profitable business.... it might be if you have enough customers, but its amazing how a habbit can grow (especially when you smoke up your customers). In the end, I think in 5 years I went from around 3k investment to around 12k...with the rest of the profits smoked up.... totally wasn't worth it for the money.... but... I learned a lot about business, and have a lot more sympathy for people trying to figure out what the hell to charge people and how much profit they really need to make for it to be worthwhile.

My score's probably zero. (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251587)

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 mind. It was only $1."
#2: "I told you following this guy was a waste. He rarely buys anything and when he does it's for a mere dollar. Let's go track someone else."
#1: "Yeah fine. Whatev."

Prior Art (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251605)

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.

Thats one way to look at it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251725)

The other way to look at it is from the perspective of the person paying less.

It is not that certain people are being charged more than they would otherwise. It is that certain people are being charged less if they don't want the game as badly.

In the end this actually benefits everyone. Why? Because more people will buy the game if they are charged a price they are actually willing to spend. This means the average price everyone pays is less.

Imagine if Fred is willing to pay $60 for a game and Barney is only willing to pay $20. If the game is simply priced at $60. The company gets 1 sale, makes $60 and 1 person gets to play the game. The company can make the same amount of money buy selling the game for $40 to Fred and $20 to Barney, and now 2 people get to play the game. But if they simply lower the price to $20, they only make $40.

Now the game company is not doing this for charity. They are trying to make money. So what would really happen is something like selling the game to Fred for $50 (a $10 discount) and selling the game to Barney for $20 (a $40 discount), and they get to make $70 total, (a $10 boost in profit).

The only problem I have with this scheme is that it is not novel and shouldn't be allowed to be patented.

Nothing new ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251729)

This is nothing new ... cell phone providers do it to new customers (3 months free for new subscribers !!!) while people who've been with them for decades get no special treatment...

heck even banks do this, they offer a quarter of a percentage off if you transfer to them, yet if you renew, you get none of this ...

i'm sure there are more examples of this type of practice.

old economics taken to new heights (1)

Thorodin (1999352) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251803)

They've just taken market segmentation and added a process to focus it to not just a demographic or geographic area but to the individual. Don't any of you remember looking through Christmas catalogs and seeing "Executive chess sets" or pens or whatever? It was a bloody chess set with the price jacked up and the word "Executive" added to the name. In other words, they figured out how to sell X number of chess sets at Y price to Z number of users. So how is that illegal? Not that I'm a fan of it but I just don't see how it violates any anti-trust. However, it would be nice to see that news spread far and wide so people are aware of it.

They patented gouging? (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251831)

That's an ancient practice!

Oh, there is prior art ... (1)

kubusja (581677) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251867)

It is commonly used by drug dealers. They sell stuff at higher prices to addicts and at lower prices for new or less addicted buyers.

“reconsume content” = fraud (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41251879)

1. There is no such thing as "content" anymore. That is just a weasel word they need, to make themselves still think in the nonsensical/criminal old business models. It is "information". Plain and simple.
2. Information is not a tangible good. It doesn't adhere to the same rules as physical matter/energy. When giving information to someone else, there is no such action as "moving", or "taking it back". Once it's out, it's out forever. So there is no such thing as giving them "another item" of a "product". You can only give them the *same* information again. But they will already have it. And since there aren't (at least yet) and TCPA/DRM chips in our head and on our computers, you can also never control if others got it to. If you yourself gave it to multiple others, it even is guaranteed, that you can't track back who passed it on.
3. Giving somebody something, which he already paid for, and demanding money again, is at least usury, and usually considered fraud. Because you took money, and gave no value in return. You did no work at all to make that copy. And artificially creating an environment in which one has to constantly pay, to keep the information he already got, ups those criminal charges by over 9000!
4. No, nearly everyone (Joe Random, but even most here on /. nowadays) not understanding the physics of this *at all*, and believing in the bullshit, because if you repeat something often enough, people will believe it, doesn’t make this right at all. Quite the opposite.

It makes it way way worse. Into a charge of a massive conscious and deliberate conspiracy of fraud, usury, bribery of officials [treason] and racketeering.

In other words: Pound-me-in-the-ass prison. Big time. For everyone involved.

At least in the real world...

Interesting Concept (1)

organgtool (966989) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251917)

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 digital item is worth what stores are charging, they are more likely to resort to piracy despite the fact that they may have been willing to pay for the item had the price been closer to what the buyer thinks it is worth. A system like this could allow retailers more flexibility in pricing so that they could sell items to people based on their interest. Such a flexible pricing system is easy to do in person, but much more difficult to do online.

It will be interesting to see how Google's system pans out if they decide to actually use it, especially considering how similar systems have failed. And while I support their attempt at such a system, I feel it is worth stating that I detest the fact that they are patenting the software algorithm that accomplishes the task.

I don't mind (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251937)

Because I'm a cheap ass bastard and if they figure out I won't pay more than $0.01 for content they'll charge me that. Win/Win.

Re:I don't mind (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252313)

Because I'm a cheap ass bastard and if they figure out I won't pay more than $0.01 for content they'll charge me that.

Dude... why overpay? Even with 'er captain in chains, capt'n Anakata's ship goes strong.

If yer gonna be dumb... (1)

gale the simple (1931540) | more than 2 years ago | (#41251957)

.. you gotta be tough... or have a lot of money. In all seriousness though, this is a prime example why you want privacy. You do not want every information profiled against you. Especially since you may not be able to do the same against an algorithm used to rap.. I mean evaluate you.

  Personally, and I suspect I am not a majority, I research my purchases so being taken advantage of is somewhat reduced. Additionally, I have a tendency to deal with people ( after they started adding taxes on online purchases everywhere, I have lost most of my reason to scour the net for cheapest crap.. with one exception, newegg, but I think it is mostly because of the reviews) and I do not purchase as many things online as I used to.

  Still, I understand that people do not always research and buy on impulse. Do I think they should be protected? Not really, they need to learn somehow. Besides, if a consumer really really absolutely wants something.. price is just a temporary distraction.

  Do I think they should have the information? Yeah, but that part should be up to them to locate. Do I think google is evil for turning from helping customers finding cheapest shit to gorging them depending on their habits? Absofuckingtively...

  For what is worth, I try to educate people I come in contact with that giving everyone all your information is not very smart. Unfortunately, the most common response I have gotten thus far something akin to "Pfffft, we aint afraid of big brotha", which completely misses the point, but I digress..

  Back to the acid mines..

Google patents (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252025)

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.

In related news ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252139)

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

Evilness depends on what is being sold (1)

hwstar (35834) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252231)

If it is something you can do without, then these types of pricing models are acceptable, as the buyer can always say: "No I'm not going to pay that for the product". Examples of products which could be dynamically priced: music, movies, sporting events, airline tickets, cable tv, communications (i.e. mobile phones, ISP's), concerts, hotel stays, restaurants, and theme park admissions.

If it is something which is income dependent, or the cost to provide the service varies with risk and complexity, then a regulated form of dynamic pricing applies. Examples: Taxes, Insurance, Home improvements, Loans.

If it is an essential item such as food, clothing, housing, healthcare, prescription drugs, or energy, then dynamic pricing should be prohibited, and everyone should pay the same price.

I call prior art! (1)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252269)

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.

Market Segmentation and Moral Hazard (1)

Yoik (955095) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252299)

I have an intuitive feel that there is something wrong about price discrimination, but cannot justify it intellectually. I think it comes down to a sense that I should fight for a better price if it is achievable.

Given that the owner of a product should have the choice to sell or not in any particular circumstance there is nothing wrong with price descrimination. Wrongfull motives on the part of the seller (we don't serve your kind here) are an exception.

But I also see nothing wrong in taking advantage of that descrimination to get the lower price, even if it defeats the seller's intent. Deleting cookies, dressing down to buy a car, going to a store in a different neighborhood all are perfectly ok with me. I am not so sure about outright lies (my son is only 5) but YMMV.

Reconsume?! (2)

TigerPlish (174064) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Oh the irony! (1)

WillyWanker (1502057) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252377)

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

Prior art (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#41252425)

Airline tickets.

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

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