Google Web page fuels speculation

Rumors circulate about a new Google service that lets users post content, like classified ads, onto a searchable Google database.

The latest chapter in the often-fantastic saga of Google is now out. This time, it's about how Google plans to crush eBay.

On Wednesday, a screen shot of a Google beta, or test, service called Google Base began circulating via blogs and news stories. There aren't many details on the page, which has since been removed but is still available in screen shot form on various Web sites. The page encourages visitors to post items on Google Base, defined by the company as a database where Google offers to host all types of content, making the content searchable online.

As an example, Google suggests that users can list a used car for sale and also suggests that users can post "descriptions of your party-planning service" or a "database of protein structures."

It's the used car example that seems to have led many onlookers to imagine that Google is planning to encroach on eBay's space. However, the Google Base Web page makes no mention of an auction or online sales capability. In addition to the eBay auction site, eBay also runs classified ad Web sites and is part-owner of Craigslist.org, a Web site that includes classified listings.

In a posting on Google's blog, Tom Oliveri, a product marketing manager at Google, wrote that Google is indeed testing a new way for content owners to submit their content to Google. He writes that Google will release more details when there's more news. The post runs under the headline "Rumor of the day."

A service like Google Base might make sense in Google's overall plan, though it's hard to know with just the bare details that are available so far, said Joe Wilcox, senior analyst at Jupiter Research. "Too many people think Google is a search company, but it's not. It's about providing access to information," he said. If Google Base allows Google to receive content directly from users and index and catalog it, the company can do a better job of providing access to it, he said.

Google's activities are under more scrutiny then ever since its financial results continue to improve dramatically. Last week, the company reported that its revenue nearly doubled in the third quarter this year compared to last year. On Wednesday morning, Google's share price (ticker symbol: GOOG) was trading at more than US$353, above its 52-week high of US$349.30.

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Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
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