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Google has acquired SparkBuy, a less-than-year-old price comparison site that was officially still in beta.

SparkBuy announced the acquisition on its website, and its service is no longer available. "We are pleased as punch to announce that Sparkbuy has been acquired by Google," said SparkBuyers Dan Shapiro, Scot Haug, and Isaac Myers. "I know, right? We can hardly believe it ourselves."

The move only highlights that Google in intent on expanding its role in price comparison shopping, a market that sits at the heart of the ongoing EU antitrust probe into the web giant's search and ad practices. The UK-based Foundem – which offers price comparison services as well as travel search, job search, and property search – has accused Google of using its dominance in overall web search to unfairly boost its position in vertical search markets.

Google already offers a price comparison service known as Google Product Search, formerly Froogle, and the speculation is that SmartBuy's three person staff will join the Google Product Search team.

Price comparison sites often get a bad rap among everyday net users, but this is clearly a market where Google sees a big opportunity – as does SparkBuy. "When we built Sparkbuy way back in the waning days of 2010, we wanted to make it really easy to find the gadget that’s perfect for your needs. Our idea was that you could combine huge piles of structured data with an intuitive interface, et voila: a few clicks to find the electronics widget with exactly the features you want," read the SparkBuy post.

"But when people started actually using Sparkbuy, we started to see that the opportunity was bigger. In fact, it was much, much bigger. There are so many 'crazy hard' search problems out there we know it could take ages for us to deliver what our customers are asking for. So when Google showed up and suggested we could work together to turbocharge our efforts, we just couldn’t pass it up."

Google told Search Engine Land that SparkBuy's three employees will join its Kirkland, Washington office near Seattle. ®

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