29 June 2006

Checking Out Google Checkout

I've not used Google Checkout, launched today, in anger yet, but I've no reason to think that it won't do what it says on the tin. There are, however, a couple of things that strike me.

The first is pretty obvious: by adding this facility to let signed-up Googlers - people who probably already use Gmail and Google a lot - pay by using this system, the company is going to know even more about what you are doing, potentially at least.

Even if the company never joins the dots together, we've already seen that the US Government wants to get its mitts on all that yummy data for its own nefarious purposes. Similarly, lawyers are bound to try to gain access to all kinds of incriminating evidence this cross-linked data will provide.

Secondly, and less obviously, perhaps, is he fact that Google is entering even further into Microsoft territory here. As the press release puts it:

Google Checkout helps merchants streamline the checkout process and also works with Google's advertising program, AdWords, so merchants can attract more customers and increase sales. The Google Checkout icon on AdWords advertisements makes it easier for shoppers to find Google Checkout stores when they search. Once shoppers buy with Google Checkout, AdWords advertisers can also process all or a portion of their sales for free. For every $1 merchants spend on AdWords, they can process $10 in sales through Google Checkout at no charge.

In other words, Google is using the power that it has gained through the success of AdWords to help cross-promote the acceptance of Google Checkout. When Microsoft does this kind of thing, the world squawks: perhaps it's time to do the same with Google.

Update: Om Malik has some interesting thoughts on what this all means.

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