Google Checkout: Just Another Paypal Thingy
Rumors of Microsoft's Demise Were In Fact Greatly Exaggerated.
Rumors of Google's Dominance Even More So.
Well, it seems the Kool Aid has run out. There was a time when Google "could do no wrong". Whatever BETA they came out with was a "Microsoft Killer". Google Docs will be the "end of Office". Even trusted trade rags drank the Google Kool Aid.
Well cracks in the armor are showing. In what was once a "PayPal killer", Google Checkout, with what was once a unique offering with it's Google Adwords tie-in, has, (gasp) matched the rate structure of PayPal, and ditched it's Adwords tie-in - generating a growing revolt among merchants, small business, and just about anyone who had something to sell, all using Google Checkout.
Make no mistake, PayPal is king among alternative payment/checkout options - and I've enough experience working with retailers payment processes to know that for a fact. I'd say anecdotally it's a 90/10 ratio for PayPal.
PayPal's dominance isn't just in market share. They've been at it for a while so their product is mature, very mature. Their acquisition of Verisign's payment processing gateway operations years ago, makes them a one-stop shop for merchants of any size. Standard credit card payment gateways? Check. Not quite ready for a merchant account? Check.
To be sure, Google Checkout's features had some interesting twists, and it was definitely getting better. Sadly, "being just another PayPal" may not be enough - after all, payments should be simple right? The goal is a "one click checkout" Amazon.com-like process right?
And here's the kicker. Customer Service. Anyone who's done business with Google (unless you're huge fish) will know that support is well, almost non-existent. If you're a fan of open source deployments, where you get your help from the community via forums, and such, well that's what you'll get with Google. Forums run by their customers. Imagine that. You have forums for a service you are thinking about adopting that will form the lifeblood of your revenue flow. Yes, imagine that. I guess you could say this is what BETA really means! But um, Google Checkout isn't a BETA. Tsk tsk.
PayPal on the other hand? Yup, it's not entirely something to praise - they can't even get PayPal vs. Gateway (Payflow Pro) support telephone transferring or IVR down to this day. BUT you do get a person, and their employees patrol the forums and blogs. Not mouthpieces, actual developers and/or technical support personnel.
Just about the only exception in Google-land is Adwords - of course they can't mess with their golden cow. You do get Google-based humans for support. Otherwise, it's a bleak world. Case in point - a few weeks ago, I looked into Google Messaging Security (aka Postini). It's a paid service and wanted to communicate (email or whatever) for pre-sales questions. Total responses? Zero. Nada. Zilch. I ended up successfully deploying it, but I'm a seasoned IT guy so, in true geek fashion, difficulty = challenge. So getting slapped with a non-response didn't stop me from being their customer. Think about that statement too.
So much has been said about "evil" Microsoft, but ahem, you get almost first-class support and guidance on Microsoft forums and employee blogs! Think about that for a second. Visit any active MSDN, ASP.Net blog run by Microsoft employees, and you actually get a team member responsible for the product you are using! That's more than 1st class support - that's a dream come true!
So today, the Google shine has dulled. The reality of the Google Product Line seems to be finally dawning upon us all. Some would say, exactly what product line would that be? Fair question. As shown above, PayPal vs. Google Checkout isn't a much of a match.
Will Google Checkout survive? I'd say yes, but let's just all end the "PayPal killer" crapola talk. It'll be just one of those "PayPal thingys".
Google does crapola after all. Speculations abound, and this blog entry says what I really think is going on.
What about this free Blogger service? Uh oh. Hopefully it generates enough AdWords revenue! Or else....gulp.
Finally, let me be clear. There is a dark horse in the payments, alternative checkout services space. One that has arguably mastered the art of the checkout. Amazon.com.
Wow, it's time to wait and see how this plays out.