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"This actually has been playing really, really well over the last few weeks as we've started engaging some of this," he said. Mining social-networking data "can impact billions of dollars of merchandise if we get it right," he added.
Walmart eventually would like to provide an API (application programming interface) and let third parties create applications using some of these capabilities, but it is still very early in the development process, Harinarayan said.
Harinarayan declined to give more details on Thursday about Walmart Labs' purchase of Australian startup Grabble, a developer of point-of-sale systems for mobile phones.