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Google Steps on eBay’s Toes

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Google has set up a system to provide content recommendations and random site navigation based on information contained within a user’s search history and preferences, which would seem to be a step onto StumbleUpon’s turf. If the eBay purchase of StubmleUpon goes through, we could have a classic confrontation.

 Google Steps on eBay's Toes
Google Steps on eBay’s Toes
 Google Steps on eBay's Toes

Sep Kamvar runs down the new social search features at the Official Google Blog:

The first is a recommendations button on the Google Toolbar that looks like a pair of dice. Click on the dice, and we’ll take you to a site that may be interesting to you based on your past searches. If you want another, just click the dice again and we’ll show you a new one. We’ll give you up to 50 new sites per day that might be of interest.

If you prefer to get your information at a glance, we’ve added a recommendations tab that you can add to your personalized homepage. Simply click on "Add A Tab" on your Google Personalized Homepage, and type in "Recommendations" for the tab name (keep the "I’m feeling lucky" checkbox checked). We’ll give you a page of recommendations that are updated daily.

This move puts Google squarely in competition with StumbleUpon, which is in talks to be acquired by eBay for somewhere between $40 – $45 million. If that deal goes through, it could set up a potential prizefight between two Internet heavyweights that would most likely go the full twelve rounds.

In retrospect, however, perhaps the confrontation was simply inevitable. The two companies have been drifting toward diametrically opposed positions for some time now.

Google’s bread and butter is search, yet eBay decided to develop its own in-house algorithm rather than contract services out to the Internet search giant. As a result, eBay has a substantially polished search product on its hands just begging to be scaled, and it has the brand power to instantly draw a user base.

Then, you have the ongoing battle for payment processing. PayPal has been a veritable cash cow for eBay and has dominated the market thus far. Google, however, has recently pumped up its effort to market Google Checkout, which the search company is leveraging as a competitor to PayPal, and eBay by proxy.

Did I mention that Yahoo just struck a deal with PayPal as well? Perhaps that move had little to do with helping Yahoo compete with Google, but was more of a strategic move by eBay instead.

And now the companies are butting heads in the realm of social search. This seems to be a pattern that can only lead to a showdown of epic proportions between these two Internet titans.

You can talk about Yahoo and Microsoft all you want, but the real fight for online supremacy is being waged between Google and eBay. 

Google Steps on eBay’s Toes
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