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That would of course put Amazon and eBay in a very difficult situation, as well as a lot of specialized comparison sites.
No one owes Amazon and a million affliate marketeers a living. Not many tears will be shed if the early web-based industries that sprung up overnight crash just as fast.
But what the web needs is trustworthy and unbiased mediation between service providers and potential clients.
As you say, Google is in a good position to do that. I'd like to see someone try it.
The first one to make that sort of service brokering work will make Bill Gates look poor -- after all they might be pocketing 2% commission on 10% of the world's trade richest trades.
And it would make my live easier too.
Google needs to understand that whatever resources it devoted 18 months ago to free search are inadequate today to fullfill the needs of their core business. They need a full-scale Directory that fairly identifies quality/authority sites in all niches. Bots can do some of the work in huge/generic niches, but people are required when it comes to more specialized knowledge. Relying on other resources that, while valuable, are incomplete and woefully outdated in some areas leads to an incomplete, outdated and *inaccurate* assessment of authority and quality across the Internet.
Google is under seige from poor quality websites. At the same time, large numbers of good quality websites are appearing all the time, and are not being found by searchers because Google is currently doing its worst job since last October.
Forget the trivial, distracting junk. Spend a half billion dollars to build a better search engine. Stop treading water. What was adequate in 2002 is not even 1/3 adequate in 2004.
1) Online IPO business - listing companies who wish to go public... (like I mentioned in the other thread "Will Google's Auction Change Future IPOs?") They could search by industry type, estimated stock price, whatever. Brings lots of exposure to small companies and max revenues for stock issued... win-win. They've already proven themselves.
2) Create niche product content sites similar to CNET, etc. (or buy some). Showcase ads alonside the content and have traditional writers, product reviewers, and such. Tie in Froogle for each product. Why let the spammers create junk websites and take 50% of my PPC revenue?
3) Develop online Database, WordProcessor and other Office Suite products. Get corporations and individuals to dump M$ and be less dependent on M$ products. Make it so anyone hooked up to any web terminal running any browser/operating system can access the Google Office products and charge a very modest monthly fee.
4) Real Estate Froogle - they should really consider making search for homes a new Google priority. Perhaps a feed all realtors could upload to but hopefully a little better executed than Froogle. Or just aquire another real estate company and integrate it, but I'd like to see a froogle model more.
It will also buy a few hundred supercomputers to implement more complex algos and update all the sites' PRs and backlinks every day.