Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2007 Issue

The Google-eBay Spat and What It Means to You

Google

Google fired the first shot by attempting to crash eBay's party.


By Michael Stillman

It was a spat that caught most internet observers off guard, a battle between "do no evil" search giant Google and massive online commerce site eBay. Surprisingly, it was the gentle giant, Google, which instigated this unexpected confrontation. However, it was eBay which responded quickly, like a trapped rattlesnake, striking back at the giant with no hint of fear. The result was Google backed down, attempting to slide off the incident as a joke. It was not, and eBay was not about to give Google a pass.

The incident arose last month in Boston, where 9,000 eBayers, primarily sellers, gathered for "eBay Live," an event the auction site held for its customers. Google attempted to crash eBay's party with its own smaller, "Let Freedom Ring" event. That was meant to be a humorous way of promoting its rival payment service to eBay sellers. No one would dispute Google's right to offer a competing service, but throwing a party designed specifically to feed off of the traffic eBay brought to Boston is pushing the boundaries of proper behavior. eBay was not amused.

eBay may be primarily an auction site, and Google a search engine, but each has a division competing in the lucrative payment-processing field. For eBay, it is market leader PayPal. PayPal, once an independent company built primarily to service payments on eBay, was bought out by that site a few years ago. Today, it brings in tons of money for eBay, reportedly some $1.4 billion in revenue last year. PayPal, of course, no longer serves just eBay, but provides payment processing for many sites, maybe even your own if you sell online. A natural outgrowth of eBay's primary business, it is now a hugely successful business of its own.

eBay is not the only firm which sees payment processing as a logical outgrowth of its core business. Google sends countless customers to many online selling sites. If the customer is sent via an advertisement, they make a few bucks, but if the customer arrives from an internet match, Google gets nothing. At some point, Google looked at that situation and concluded there must be a way to get a piece of the action. Since many of those merchants needed a way to provide secure online payment (which is why so many are using PayPal), Google figured this was a logical way to monetize the free service they were providing. So, along came Google Checkout, the search giant's answer to PayPal. Now Google would like eBay to accept payments through Google Checkout too, hence the "Let Freedom Ring" moniker. "Freedom," of course, has a nice ring to it, but to eBay, this is like giving the fox freedom to roam the henhouse. Or perhaps it's like giving Target the "freedom" to install a kiosk inside of Wal-Mart. To eBay, this was simply an attempt to secure the freedom to steal their business.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3:</b><br>Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec,<br><i>The Chap Book</i>, 1896.<br>$20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3:</b><br>Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec,<br><i>Troupe de Mlle Églantine</i>, 1896.<br>$20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3:</b><br>Philippe Henri Noyer, <br><i>Limonade Brault</i>, 1938. <br>$4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3:</b> <br><i>The Great Men of the World</i>,<br>designer unknown, circa 1945-46. <br>$7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3:</b><br>James Montgomery Flagg,<br><i>Wake Up, America!</i>, 1917.<br>$4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3:</b><br>Alfred F. Burke, <i>Share / Jewish <br>Relief Campaign</i>, circa 1915.<br>$3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3:</b><br>Ludwig Hohlwein, <i>Marke Pkz / <br>Burger - Kehl & Co.</i>, circa 1911. <br>$8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3:</b> <br>Gian Emilio Malerba,<i> E.A. Mele / Modo e Novita per Signora</i>, circa 1900. $7,000 to $10,000.
  • <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION, Chicago, 1968). <i>Collection of papers of John M. Bailey, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, concerning the convention</i>. Various places, 1968.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (ARMSTRONG, NEIL.) VERNE, JULES. <i>A Trip to the Moon.</i> New York: F. M. Lupton, September 9, 1893. Signed by Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> KEY, FRANCIS SCOTT. <i>A Celebrated Patriotic Song, the Star Spangled Banner.</i> 1814.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> [COLUMBUS, CHRISTOPHER, Amerigo Vespucci ..] Bernardus Albingaunensis .. Dialogo nuperrime edito Genue in 1512.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (WATKINS, TABER &c.). <i>An album of 32 photographs of the Yosemite and American West Various places</i>, c. 1890s
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (BATTLE OF CONCORD.) <i>Powder horn used by Minuteman Oliver Buttrick at the Battle of Concord</i>, April 19, 1775.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (CIVIL WAR.) <i>An Extraordinary Confederate Photograph and Autograph Album of Dr. R. L. C. White</i>, 125 original mounted salt prints. 1859-61.
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    <b>Bonhams Jul 20: </b> Full scale vintage <i>Sputnik-1</i> EMC/EMI Lab Model, with live transmitter. US$ 10,000-15,000
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    <b>Bonhams Jul 20: </b> Flown on SOYUZ 9<br>An exhaustive manuscript on life in space. [Trans: On-Board Flight Journal for Spacecraft Soyuz-9, 1970]. US$ 6,000-9,000
    <b>Bonhams Jul 20: </b> SOYUZ 18? Flown Navigation Celestial Globe. Soyuz 18 lasted from May 24-July 26, 1975. US$ 30,000-40,000
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  • <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Leaves from<br>George Washington's Own Draft <br>of His first Inaugural Address. An Extraordinary Rarity!
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Declaration of Independence: Benjamin Tyler 1818 - First Print with Facsimile Signatures.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Thomas Jefferson Signed Act of Contress Authorizing Alexander Hamilton to Complete Famous Portland Maine Lighthouse.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Emanuel Leutze. Silk Flag Banner designed by Leutze, created by Tiffany & Co., and presented to Gen. John A. Dix, 1864.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> The "greatest of early American maps … a masterpiece" (Corcoran). Thomas Holme.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Lincoln Summons His Cabinet for a Historic Meeting to Discuss Compensated Emancipation.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Albert Einstein. Autograph Letter Signed. Einstein Counsels His Son ... Meaning of Life.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Normal Rockwell. Painting/Drawing Signed. Rockwell's "Barbeshop Quartet", 1936.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Frederick Douglass. Autograph Letter Signed to unknown correspondent. Washington, D.C.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Harry Truman. Autograph Manuscript Notebook for Kansas City Law School Night Class.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Robert E. Lee. Autograph Letter Signed, June 11, 1782. Hours after the Battle of Culpeper Court House, Lee Escapes Again.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> George Washington. Letter Signed, as Commander-in-Chief, Continental Army, to Elias Dayton, Headquarters, [Newburgh, N.Y.], June 11, 1782.

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