This post from Jul 7, 2006 is a really interesting read with the modern e-commerce landscape in mind. This post dates from when Google had just introduced Checkout and everyone was up in arms with eBay for not accepting it.

I’ll let you read this one first and then give you my commentary underneath.

Original post:

The eBay PayPal vs Google Checkout wars

I must admit, before this hit the news I had been looking at the list of accepted eBay payments and found myself saying “Oh snap!” when I saw that Google was on the banned list.

Now, in all fairness, they are still in beta and eBay’s policy clearly says that if a payment is brand new, it will have to prove itself for a while before it makes the list. At first, I thought eBay would just add it in a show of “we don’t consider you competition,” but upon closer thinking on it, if I started my own online payment called PoodlePay or something, I would have a trial period where they wouldn’t accept me, so why should Google be any different?

Here is my take on the whole Google and eBay as Rivals thing. I like Google for search.. I like their Adsense since it makes me money. Blogger will always kick the butt of eBay’s Blogs.

However:

  • I like Hotmail much better than Gmail (more on that in a future post).
  • I like eBay Keywords better as an advertiser than Google Adwords and I would definitely give eBay’s ads a shot when they come out.
  • I see no use in Google Base whatsoever and I love to pimp my wares anywhere.
  • Google Calendar might be cool, but since it never actually emails me to remind me of things even though it is set to, I am not yet a fan.
  • Google Answers usually raises more questions than answers.
  • Google Earth has the oldest picture of my house which makes me question it’s accuracy.

Essentially, I feel like Google is trying to do too many things and is doing them half-assed. Of all the new products they have introduced, only a handful show promise and of those handful, only a few are useful right now.

eBay on the other hand, has, for the most part, stuck with what they know. OK, the purchase of Skype seemed out of the blue at the time but now, as they integrate it into listings, I think it’s going to be a great and relatively painless way to take phone call questions.

Also, as a buyer, I love eBay Express. Now, anytime I need to buy something on eBay, I use Express and the buying experience is a million times better. The advancements in policy and usability of the site have gone so far that it leads me to this conclusion.

eBay is sticking with what it knows and that is working well for them. Google is trying to branch out too many places at once and so far, I am not impressed. I don’t think eBay has anything to worry about.

OK, let’s talk about this.

Opinion of mine and facts that have changed since I wrote this:

  • Hotmail went downhill so fast it is hilarious. I use Gmail for everything now. The only thing I really liked about Hotmail was their ISMP ability which Google got shortly thereafter.
  • eBay Keywords is gone which is sad because it really want a great advertiser for us.
  • Google Base was converted into Google Product Search. Product Search is a useful tool and a great traffic driver for your store no matter where you sell. But the classified of Google Base in 2006 were stupid so I stand by that. Apparently, Google was with me on that since they totally changed it. šŸ˜‰
  • Google Answers serves its purpose. I could write many posts on answer sites like that but I will control myself.
  • Google Earth has hugely improved from the sad thing in was back then.
  • eBay Express is gone. šŸ™
  • Has eBay continued to “stick with what they know” as I said above? I’ll leave you guys to debate that in the comments.
  • I wish they had better integrated Skype with eBay listings. I was really excited to play with that and they never activated it for any of my categories.

But the main criticism of Google above? I kinda still feel the same way. Google Buzz? Google Wave? Google Blog Connect? Those are a recent three of hundreds of half-baked ideas they released way before they were ready and then quickly put under the rug when they realized they didn’t work. Google Payments still isn’t a great option, their fees are too high compared to PayPal. They only bought YouTube because their Google Videos wasn’t taking off, ditto Blogger.

Ever hear the expression jack or all trades, master of none? Well Google is the master of several things but they are in danger of diluting their brand with every stinker.

I love Google for a lot of things and I understand that if you don’t take the risks and try new things, nothing would ever be invented. But a lot of times they focus more on cloning whatever is new, hot or popular (like they were doing in 2006 with Payments, trying to muscle in on PayPal). I love Google innovation and when they purchase a unique company or try something totally new, that is where they excel. I still think they should focus on fixing up what they have before they try to jam as many things on the scene as possible.

Anyway, what do you think? How has your opinion of Google changed over the years?