Party games, Google style

And so to a highly entertaining stand-off this week in the virtual world, as Google's ‘handbags at 20 paces' spat with eBay soured already strained relations between the giants.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Google has been put out of late by eBay's refusal to allow customers of the auction site to pay by Google Checkout, the company's rival to eBay's Pay Pal. Its response: to organise a party to be held tonight in Boston, during eBay's annual conference in the city, called ‘Let Freedom Ring'. And to directly target eBay's customers with an invitation to a ‘celebration of user choice'. It may sound a touch hypocritical, as Google has received a lot of flak recently over what it is perceived to be doing to user choice, but other than that it seems like a decent slice of good old corporate guerrilla warfare.

There was just one small snag: Ebay is one of Google's biggest advertising clients. As anyone with the most rudimentary knowledge of business knows, this means you should do what you can to keep them sweet. Luring customers from their annual conference to a party that publicises your rival product is not really the way to do it. Sure enough, once eBay announced it was cutting its advertising spend on Google's search site as a response, Google quickly beat a hasty retreat and admitted the idea had been a touch foolish.

Google must now have the task of offloading a bunch of unwanted ‘Let freedom ring' banners and party hats. They could always try to flog them on eBay…

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