Google is reportedly looking to partner with major retailers and UPS to offer shipping for online purposes, a move that (if successful) could undercut Amazon's dominance in the online shopping market.
Rather than build its own empire of warehouses and auction sites, Google would tie the shipping service to its own shopping services, Google Product Search, Google Wallet, and Google Offers. Find a deal online, buy it, and then Google would ship it to you for a low price. According to The Wall Street Journal, this shipping idea is still in the development stages but Google has approached several large stores about partnering up. The product would be a direct challenge to Amazon Prime, the membership service that has been a huge hit for the web giant, offering customers free expedited shipping in exchange for a yearly fee.
This looks like a text book example of Google leveraging its massive search dominance to shoehorn itself into other businesses — and tweak a competitive rival — but as Matt Rosoff at Business Insider points, that's traditionally how Google gets itself into trouble. By trying to be all things to all people, it wastes time, energy and money on forgettable products, while simultaneously distracting itself from its core business. This venture, however, might actually enhance an existing, but underused feature (Google Product Search) without eating up too many resources in Mountain View. (Sounds like they'd mostly be serving as a middle man between stores and shippers, and taking a small cut for themselves.)
Or maybe it's all just talk in an effort to spook Amazon? But never discount Google's desire to organize (and monetize) your entire life.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.