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Excite launches Net smart shopper

Cashing in on its investment in NetBot, Excite launches its Jango shopping agent, which lets consumers search the Web for specific products.

Excite (XCIT) today launched its Jango shopping agent, which lets consumers search the Web for specific products.

The new product is part of Excite's plan to cash in on its $35 million investment in NetBot.

The launch of the shopping agent, which is initially integrated into four categories on Excite's "shopping channel," corresponds to the busiest shopping season of the year, representing Excite's effort to pull shoppers onto the Net from the physical world.

Excite is not alone. Rival search directory Yahoo with Visa International and StoreSearch with MasterCard also announced search-based shopping initiatives this week.

Excite's shopping agent will search listings for books, games, computer hardware and software, music, and movies. Sports and leisure, home and garden, gourmet and groceries, and flowers and gifts will be added shortly.

Excite's Jango agent technology, adapted to run on Excite's servers, was acquired with NetBot in a deal announced October 16. Excite said today that it has finalized all conditions on the acquisition.

Nicole Vanderbilt, who follows consumer Internet commerce for Jupiter Communications, thinks Jango gives Excite a way to differentiate itself from other e-commerce sites, particularly search engines.

However, earlier this week Yahoo added a "personal shopper" service, created in conjunction with Junglee, to help users find gifts by searching for specific items in Yahoo's shopping guide, which carries the Visa brand.

MasterCard today said it will promote the StoreSearch service, a search engine specifically for Internet shopping. Shoppers can search hundreds of thousands of free Web site listings in 200 product categories, including anchor tenant JCPenney.