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Track those goods, prices on eBay

eBay and Web researcher Terapeak tout new tools to help people search for product and pricing information.

Customers of online auction giant eBay can now take advantage of two new technologies designed to unearth detailed search, pricing and product information from the site's data stores.

The San Jose, Calif., company on Tuesday launched Pulse, a tool it describes as a "daily barometer" that aims to provide up-to-the-minute statistics on buying and selling trends among its auctions. The application, which will be updated every 24 hours, aggregates auction data such as pricing information into a central portal to give eBay users a better idea of just how much certain items are selling for.

Also on Tuesday, Net research firm Terapeak launched a data mining application for use with eBay. Terapeak Smart Search is an analytical software engine that gathers data from closed auctions on eBay to offer customers market context.

"We'd been using eBay to sell software, and it was hard to understand why things sold well sometimes and not so well at others," said Anthony Sukow, Terapeak's chief executive. "We wanted to create a stock-market type approach to analyzing eBay so people could run their businesses more effectively."

Born from the auction experiences of company co-founders and brothers Anthony and Andrew Sukow, Terapeak's tool is meant to provide an easy way for eBay sellers to determine which auction categories are performing well and to garner up-to-the-minute pricing data for items sold via eBay. The system also allows people to view eBay's most successful sellers in a given category or time frame. So far, the system covers 16 of eBay's 32 product categories.

The Victoria, British Columbia, company offers two versions of its tool, Terapeak Lite, which searches one day of closed auctions at a time for $9.95 per month, and Terapeak Research Complete, which allows eBay users to search auction data for a month for $16.95.

Terapeak participates in eBay's data licensing program, which gives companies access to eBay's closed auction data. The software tool has attracted more than 200 beta testers so far.

Meanwhile, eBay said Pulse will feature a dropdown menu that allows its customers to quickly scan the trends shaping up in its auctions. Using the tool, eBay customers can get a snapshot of auction histories and which kinds of items are among the site's hottest sellers on any given day.

Available for free to eBay users, Pulse marks the first time eBay has launched technology specifically designed to help its customers track buying, selling and pricing trends. In the past, people have had to search manually or use the tracking tool on the site's My eBay section to create informal comparisons by following multiple auctions of similar items.

Pulse also lets eBay customers see which product categories are among the day's most popular search terms. For instance, customers could see that on Monday, the top three categories searched for were CDs, silver and DVDs.

eBay expects the tool will help people who run businesses over the site to cash in on seasonal demand or fast-moving fashions.