The Wall Street Journal reports that Google intends to compete with Amazon, eBay and every other online retailer:
Google Inc. will launch buy buttons on its search-result pages in coming weeks, a controversial step by the company toward becoming an online marketplace rivaling those run by Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc.
The search giant will start showing the buttons when people search for products on mobile devices, according to people familiar with the launch.
The buttons will accompany sponsored—or paid—search results, often displayed under a “Shop on Google” heading at the top of the page. Buttons won’t appear with the nonsponsored results that are driven by Google’s basic search algorithm.
Given Google’s search monopoly, this move accomplishes at least two predatory moves: First, Google will get personally identifiable data from you about your purchasing habits as well as your name, address, credit card number, phone number and whatever else they can extract from you.
How will this work?
The Journal reports:
Google will let shoppers input payment credentials such as credit-card numbers one time, and the company will store those and automatically load them for future purchases on its shopping pages.
Google won’t send those payment details to the retailers, one of the people said. After Google gets the money from shoppers it will pass the payment on to the retailer. Depending on how the consumer chooses to pay, Google or the retailer may show up on customer billing statements, one of the people said.
Google “will let”…nice of them, eh?
But notice that there is not one named source in this story–not one. It’s not even the usual “Google spokesperson”, it’s just “people”. People who know about that thing that happened in that place down by where that other thing happened with those guys who were hanging around at the time. This is a new low.
The other predatory move is that Google is inserting itself into the customer transaction so that not only are they driving traffic to the retailer, there’s a real question of exactly whose customer you really are. Are you the retailer’s customer or are you Google’s? If Google doesn’t send “payment details to the retailers” that means that Google is keeping the customer data themselves.
That means that Google can send you ads or marketing campaigns based on purchases you made at Walmart but drive you to Target.
Inserting themselves as an intermediary guarantees Google an extraordinary amount of personally identifiable information tied directly to purchasing virtually anything–including drugs, medical devices and lots of other stuff you probably wouldn’t want to have end up in the hands of a data profiler who might sell that information to anyone. Such as your employer, landlord, bank or anyone else looking into your background.
Oh, like the U.S. government, for example.
And of course there’s no mention of a charge by Google. This looks like it’s another “free” service from Google. You know who the product is when Google gives you something for “free” right?
The product is you, of course.
Because it’s the data, stupid.