John Markoff, the indispensable and totally wired SF-based New York Times technology reporter, today formally tells us about Google’s plans to enter the classified listings business. What had previously been rumored by the legions of Google-watchers now seems poised for the real world.
I don’t hear many cheers or gee whizzes. In fact, I’m wondering whether this frontal assault on the lifelines of many big and small newspapers across the country might even produce a negative backlash. Think of the criticism from which Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Microsoft continue to suffer in their quests to dominate their respective markets.
Sure, classified.google.com (Base) will be a boon for the company’s stock price, but at what expense? Under the guise of “this is cool, so it must be good,” the company risks developing a reputation as a voracious, take-no-prisoners monopoly with an unrelenting quest for growth and profits.
I don’t expect the Newspaper Association of America to mount an effective campaign to blunt the inevitable erosion of its members’ vital revenue stream. However, shouldn’t the “thought-leaders” atop the Mountain View company take into consideration the disruptive impact their myriad new “services” might have on the lives of the soon-to-be disintermediated? Perhaps they should put progress, profits and platitudes aside to step back and reflect?