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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Google Checkout Is Live

Google released the long-rumored Google Checkout (Codename “Sierra”), a PayPal-like system to shop online without having to re-enter your personal information, and without having to remember different passwords. As opposed to PayPal though, Checkout is not an online bank account to send and receive money... at this time, it’s just trying to let you buy on shops like Starbucks, Levi’s, DVD empire or (the list of supported sites lacks some big names like Amazon). Google suggests you look for the shopping cart icon within AdWords on search results... yep, makes sense, they earn for every click on those. (Also see the tour.)

After entering my credit card details into Google Checkout, I tried to use the service on DVD Empire but it didn’t work – I wasn’t offered Google Checkout in the end, but was asked to create a new account or login with an existing DVD Empire one. I tried the service once more with, and as this video demonstrates, while there was a Google Checkout button this time, the whole thing resulted in an error anyway. Not a successful start for this Google service, but perhaps this is just the typical Google launch day syndrome (or there’s no support outside the US).

Now, the Google Account is getting more powerful with every new service Google adds. It looks like Google aims to become the software layer below all web content. A webmaster can now create a shop site by outsourcing the data publication to Google Base, getting extra publicity through Google AdWords, adding Google features through Google Account Authentication, add site search with the Google Web API, and allow shoopers to buy stuff with Google Checkout without having to handle credit card information. Community sites can make revenue via Google AdSense, share the revenue through the AdSense API, and outsource blogs (Blogger), web pages (Google Page Creator), groups (Google Groups), calendars (Google Calendar), videos (Google Video), images (Picasa Web Albums), maps (the Google Maps API) and so on. The foundation for all of this, really, is user trust in Google, and the question: will they screw with my data or not?

[Thanks Reto Meier, Corsin, Ionut, Miel, Eli, David Hetfield, Adrian L.]


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