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Google Base beta fuels speculation

Would you buy a used car from this web page?

The industry is devouring the latest installment in the often-fantastic Google saga. This one is about how the firm plans to crush eBay.

On Wednesday, a screen shot of a beta (or test) service called Google Base began circulating via blogs and news stories. There aren't many details on the page, which has since been removed but is still available in screen-shot form on various websites. The page encourages visitors to post items on what the company defines as a searchable database offering to host all types of content.

As an example, Google suggests users can list a used car for sale. It also suggests users can post "descriptions of your party-planning service" or a "database of protein structures".

It's the used-car example that seems to have led many onlookers to imagine that Google is planning to encroach on eBay’s space. However, the Google Base web page makes no mention of an auction or online sales capability. In addition to the eBay auction site, eBay also runs classified ad sites and is part-owner of Craigslist.org, a site that includes classified listings.

In a posting on Google's blog, Tom Oliveri, a product marketing manager at the firm, wrote that it is indeed testing a new way for content owners to submit their content. He adds that when there's more news, it will be released. The post runs under the headline 'Rumor of the day'.

A service in the vein of Google Base might make sense in the company's overall plan, although it's hard to comment on the basis of so few details, said Joe Wilcox, senior analyst at Jupiter Research. "Too many people think Google is a search firm, but it's not. It's about providing access to information," he said.

If Google Base allows it to receive content directly from users and index and catalogue it, the company can do a better job of providing access to it, he added.

Google's activities are under more scrutiny then ever as its financial results continue to improve dramatically. Last week, the company reported that its revenue in the third quarter this year was nearly double that of the same period last year. On Wednesday morning, Google shares were trading at more than $353 (about £197.83), exceeding its 52-week high of $349.30 (£195.76).


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