Google Base: Is eBay really the target?

There has already been a ton of commentary on the “leak” of information about Google Base, a Google service in development that would let people post their content on a Google database. Most of the speculation I've seen has positioned Google Base as a classified ad service that would let people sell things online, competing with eBay.

But that’s not what I read into the service. What I think I see is a freeform database, a free-of-charge data publishing service. Right now if you want to post information to the Internet, you need to create a website or post it on someone else’s site. I think this Google service would make it a lot easier for people to share content if they want to. That in itself will drive the placement of more information into the online world, which is a basic Google value.

To me, the most interesting commercial opportunity around Google Base would be if Google tied it to a payment system, so people could charge for the content they post. That would turn Google Base into a self-publishing platform for software developers, artists, authors, and other content creators.

If I’m right, the real target isn’t eBay or the classified ad services, but the commerce engines that content creators have to license separately today if they want to sell their stuff online. I think Google could do a lot to streamline that process, and the result would be a lot more sales of specialized content online. Speaking as someone who has a side business of creating content (consulting reports and a book on the way), I think a Google service like that would be hot.

I have no idea if Google’s planning to create this sort of commerce engine, but it’s what I’d do if I were in their shoes.