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Checkout the hype

CNet continues to devour news about Google Checkout — the search juggernaut’s entry into the electronic wallet craze that fizzled during the (first) bubble — the way Takeru Kobayashi devours hot dogs. Originally considered so much of a threat to eBay’s PayPal that it sent the auction giant running into the embrace of its vanquished auction rival Yahoo!, it turns out that Google Checkout is another attempt to launch a service like Microsoft’s Passport.

CNet blogger and veteran technology journalist Rafe Needleman calls Google Checkout “Amazon’s worst nightmare,” but I think Rafe may be indulging in a bit of hyperbole, to say the least. Let’s see Google line up more than a handful of vendors before we lay the tombstone on Amazon’s grave. Amazon has won customers through great customer service, not by accepting unknown payment schemes.

While the CNet piece offers several explanations as to why Passport (and the reactionary yet equally ineffective Liberty Alliance that it spawned) failed, it overlooks the major competition with far more trust than any technology brand — credit cards. These continue to be the dominant way people pay for things online. No, they aren’t hassle-free, but they’re nearly universal and most consumers already have them.