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Google Base: A New Rival for eBay and Craigslist?

? Cisco's Evolving IP Pitch |


| No Web 2.0 Bubble? Hmmm.... ?

October 25, 2005

Google Base: A New Rival for eBay and Craigslist?

Rob Hof

ChannelAdvisor CEO Scot Wingo notes that some folks in Europe caught a screen shot of Google Base, which looks to be a potential rival to eBay, before Google apparently took it down. It actually sounds like more than that from the description on the page: "Google Base is Google's database into which you can add all sort of content. We'll host your content and make it searchable online for free." It provides examples, from "listing of your used car for sale" to "database of protein structures."

Of course, the latter one wouldn't exactly be a top seller on eBay, but the Webforce blog shows a screenshot of a pretty detailed form for listing real estate. The New Google Blog, with no attribution, suggests Google Base might be introduced today at Google's invite-only Zeitgeist conference.

Actually, it sounds like it might be as much a rival to Craigslist as eBay. Either way, though--assuming it's real--it will require many more pieces to be in place, such as payment and reputation systems. Wouldn't put it past Google to give it all a shot, but it could be a good long while before Google Base makes headway against the finely tuned franchises of eBay and Craigslist.

UPDATE: Scot has some more clues and interesting thoughts on what Google Base could mean for eBayers. (As do we in our story.) Although Google Base no doubt will give eBay plenty to chew on, I still think Google has something a little different in mind. Besides the name, which doesn't even suggest an overt focus on commerce, the breadth of categories that Google lists suggests it may be focused on the broader market for local ads--not just classifieds but Yellow Pages and radio ads, which often are from local services. Increasingly, eBay is targeting those as well, with its acquisitions of and and its own classified-ad forays. So if Google is successful here--and that's a very big if (Mike Arrington at TechCrunch, for one, doesn't think much of the idea)--newspapers and radio stations may have even more to worry about than eBay. Forrester's Charlene Li thinks there's even a bigger picture.

If you really want to dig in to the coverage, Search Engine Lowdown has an extensive list.

10:16 AM

Google, eBay

I found the form field where you can put a URL to a listing of the item on your own website interesting. Would allow the small eCommerce players to get more exposure. Possibly pay-per-click just like AdSense. Doesn't seem so "walled garden" as eBay or Yahoo stores

Posted by: PXLated at October 25, 2005 11:36 AM

In a lot of new systems the technology, while not trivial, is not as important as defining a unique user experience that offers something better than a rival. Or the business proposition must be superior.

Google's advertising network beat rivals by sharing the bounty.

Google ad words beat rivals by showing relevance to the search term.

In the last 10 years lots of companies with scale (Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay) have tried various new offerings to mixed success.

MSN is still not #1 ISP despite being bundled on every PC desktop as a link.

Yahoo Auctions could not beat eBay.

eBay's offline auction business fizzled, as did which it acquired.

Google's Orkut is not as large as Friendster or MySpace after two years of being live.

Size matters but execution and unique value proposition matter more. The latter determine success online more which is why we have companies like Skype, Facebook and others.

Posted by: Steve Harmon at October 25, 2005 12:21 PM

I think its less about technology and more about business and first to market.

Yahoo is great at email. Google tried and still falls short.

Just like Payapl is to payments, and eBay to auctions, and Skype to VoIP, Google is to search and yahoo to content and email.

First to market matters.

A business model matters.

Google has issues with privacy and trust and safety.

Why would anyone think that is a threat to eBay that focuses so much in that area?

I think Google does search awesome with its Ads.

No one comes close.

Yahoo does great in email and content. I still go there to check stock prices, latest news, and use email (even though I have a gmail account that is uselss).

I use eBay for auctions, fixed priced, and payments. I even pay my friends via paypal as its easier and safer. I rather use paypal than give out my credit card information.

Posted by: Vedo at October 25, 2005 03:25 PM

ebay and craigslist have solid, established communities. to assume that google is going to step in and create such a community immediately is ridiculous. and maybe they won't try to do that, maybe google base will simply be a classifieds hub---because, you see, what makes something like craigslist stand out is the fact that it is a community where people go online during work hours to connect with other people. to snicker at their funny posts and rants, and to get a date that night for a movie. this sort of trust on a site where you're dealing with people directly doesn't come over night.

google can afford to try a lot of different things. and they can afford to have some of them not be winners. orkut is such an example. the real test for google now is can they produce repeat winners.

my $.02.

Posted by: Lewis Bremer at October 25, 2005 03:45 PM

I don't think they do it to win the the crowd in any market they enter [at least for the short term]. I think they just want a piece of the action - new land to post more ads, and with the technical expertise in web applications and efficient business model [and ofcourse their reputation] they will succesfully increase their advertisement revenue.

Their strength is search, and revenue source is ads. Anything else they do, will just enable them to broaden their ad base, without having to pay a percentage to 3rd parties. Gmail, maps, talk, everything they do, is in line with their mission, "Collect as much of the available content as possible" [ so they can advertise on them ].

Since they don't depend on the money any new product will bring directly, his is not a win/loose game for them. They slowly get into other martkets to place ads. Their efficiency makes it easy to maintain and improve their products constantly. Web apps are perfect for that.

And finally, the more they gain on different markets, the less powerful the leaders in those markets become. Given all competitors are equally smart, the most efficient will eventually outperform.

Posted by: hilmi at October 25, 2005 04:35 PM

I doubt this can compete head to head with craigslist or ebay because of their community size. It's probably about building more content and having more relevance ads which is the bread and butter of Google.

Posted by: Sam at October 25, 2005 07:09 PM

If Google were to collect an online database with listed goods for sale, as well as integrating its fabled GWallet in the process, Google could have a stream-lined system circulating revenue over and over again, in something so entirely massive it would give Google their own Internet Domain, complete with advertising(Google) hosting (Their wi-fi service), payments (GWallet) and the venue (Google base).

Don't think Goog is scared of the major players in any way... remember what the definition of a Google is. Don't forget it...

look at facebook... jm

Posted by: John McCarthy at October 25, 2005 07:43 PM


I think we should remember the importance of local feeling and simplicity. Here down under, the best deal is to have people close to you find you and not to have your stuff spread onto an array of worthless sites and point systems...

I say keep it basic!

By the way, check out my site

best regards


Posted by: Gato at October 25, 2005 08:23 PM

Now links to main google site.

Posted by: prksh at October 25, 2005 11:20 PM

I really hope Google Bases gives ebay some serious competition. Ebays site is still a fairly clunky site despite all their claims about constantly refreshing the code. The ebay search engine is erratic. Why doesn't ebay intall a Google search appliance......??

Don't get me wrong ebay is still a great company, but they are sort of resting on their laurels

Posted by: Randall Shimizu at October 26, 2005 05:45 AM

I think the whole "community" aspect of CL is grossly played out and is used mainly for marketing purposes these days. The majority of the visitors to CL are not going there for any "community", but mainly to browse (and post) classified ads. Will definitely be interesting to see what Google is cooking up...

Posted by: FrankM at October 26, 2005 06:28 AM


Here's another link in the chain:


Posted by: david siegel at October 26, 2005 10:07 AM

Google base, if integrated with maps, payments and google talk, will be a killer proposition online. ebay has not had worthy competition. So it'll be great to see them slug it out. Google has redefined the Internet for people. All the activism and talk of innovation, with the likes of Yahoo, MSN or all companies online, is because of the Google Juggernaut. I've not known any other company so good and great and giving Bill Gates sleepless nights, with sheer innovation.

Posted by: Randhir Reddy at October 26, 2005 10:45 AM

The stampede of ebay sellers to the exit will leave the ebay site a virtual ghost town within 90 days of Google Base going live. Just like the old west when store clerks gouged miners for every penny they could get, ebay has created zero seller loyalty. Just the hint of a strike in a new vein will create an exodus not seen since the gold rush! Look to see a tumbleweed blowing down the streets of ebay shortly.

Posted by: ebay seller at October 26, 2005 10:58 AM

Any contribution to the industry is welcome.

It is still difficult to buy and sell over the web.

It is still difficult to find good employees or a good job.

Google is bringing value and is set for even more growth.

It is not easy to scale and keep a culture of innovation.

Will see if they become Microsoft.

Posted by: Ricardo Sardenberg at October 26, 2005 11:19 AM

I have more screenshots of Google Base in my blog. Check it if you are interested!

Posted by: Kirubakaran at October 26, 2005 04:48 PM

Google Base reminds me of an interesting concept I came across, called ROR (, basically it's an XML format for describing content more precisely (e.g. products, articles, people, etc)

Posted by: John at October 26, 2005 08:31 PM

As an affiliate marketer – this will really take away from from my eBay commission business. Why? There are thousands of people like myself who target certain keywords using Google Adwords and make commission by linking to eBay to make a commission. Now I have a feeling those ads will be replaced with the Google Base Ads.

This can be an interesting turn – perhaps Google will have some affiliate program?!

I started a new forum where we can all discuss Google Base. I hope that you all join me in this!

Posted by: Amish Shah at October 28, 2005 12:21 PM

bring it on my friend!!

Posted by: Wan1980 at October 29, 2005 02:28 AM

It's really hot and happening....Amazon's A9 is up against Google and Google going against them...let's see who wins :))

Posted by: Anshul at November 11, 2005 07:35 AM

Well, in hindsight, looks like Google gave up on the direct affront and went off a different direction, thought still related to online shopping and payment processing.

Posted by: Filo Mall at April 1, 2007 04:55 AM

Google is certainly making it easy to get items into it. I have only just looked at it. There is something there for developers, webmasters, Etailers, and Retailers too by the looks of it. I wonder if they will identify items as Google Base sourced?

Posted by: Rodderz at April 28, 2007 02:14 AM

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