Google’s already outsize ambitions appeared to balloon even bigger on Oct. 25 with the news that it’s apparently testing something called Google Base. The test site, spotted by sharp-eyed Web surfers in Europe, indicate that Google aims to solicit people to post all manner of content on its site. But what got people’s attention were the specific examples, such as classified-ad listings for real estate. Watch out eBay! Business week had this story.
POTENT AMMO. It’s not as crazy as it may sound to the casual Web surfer. In essence, notes an insider. “Classifieds are product search.” So it fits neatly into Google’s stated goal of organizing the world’s information and making it more accessible. And, of course, taking tidy profit off the top.
GIVE IT A TRY? Google has also been working on a payment system for months. Few companies other than PayPal — including eBay — have been able to pull that off, and no one knows how far along Google is. But Brown sees Google Base potentially cutting into eBay’s pricing power — if Google’s service were free — and into the auction giant’s growth. Brown already has a sell rating on eBay’s stock because he’s concerned about growth and large eBay sellers moving off the site.
Google will have to break down roadblocks, though, before Google Base poses a meaningful threat to eBay or any other rivals. It appears Google Base would put Google into the content business — that is, content it would own, not just point to. That could rankle partners, specifically the classified-ad sites such as Monster.com from which Google recently has been asking for feeds. “It starts to put them in heavy conflict with their partners,” says Craig Donato, CEO of Oodle, a new search engine for classifieds, itself a would-be competitor.