|Thu June 14 2007 09:10:47|
Google 'Freedom' Party at eBay Live has Hollow Ring
By: David Steiner
For the past several years, Google has managed to inject themselves into eBay's largest shindig of the year. By leaking (after all, Google rarely states anything directly) that projects such as Google Base and Google Checkout were in the works - Google was an invisible presence at the eBay Live conferences. This year, again, Google made a late announcement that a "Let Freedom Ring" party to introduce sellers to Google Checkout, would be held during this year's Boston conference.
What enfolded was a 2-day PR smackdown between two Internet biggies. EBay pulled their ads from Google, and ultimately, Google folded like a cheap tent in a hailstorm, and cancelled their party.
So they've kissed and made up, right? Why is this such a big deal, then?
Make no mistake about it, online sellers are diversifying to multi-channel selling, and many are pinning their hopes on Google's development of product search and payment services. However, Google more often than not, illustrates that they are not prepared - or possibly not committed - to make a foray into ecommerce. And that makes sellers nervous. After all, would you hitch a wagon to a blind horse?
I don't blame Google for buckling. For all their lip service as a search engine, they're really in the business of selling ads - and eBay is one of their largest clients. It would be comparable to Pepsi's PR firm saying to the company, "You know, we're thinking about getting into the soda pop business too." It's an obvious conflict of interest, and eBay reacted the only way they knew how. With force.
Of course, Google becomes the shadowy figure at yet another eBay Live. But this time, they seem indecisive, confused - and a bit weaker.
Here's a thought: Google (and many other internet companies) should stop trying to be Swiss Army Knives - you know, utensils that can do a lot of things - but none very well. They should also try finishing what they start - it might help them remove some of the "Beta" tags from their site, and restore some credibility to their many side projects.
If the Colonists in 1776 showed as much "commitment" to freedom as Google, we might still be a British Colony.
Author's Note: I almost titled this, "Google Gets It's Bell Rung at eBay Live" - tough choice.