Friday, May 27, 2011

Google's Latest Adversary

When you're ambitious it's sometimes easy to step on toes. We know this from fields such as sports, entertainment and politics. But lately Google has been finding out the hard way that it's just as true in the world of tech and computers.

Just last week this blog reported about Google's ongoing feud with Facebook hotting up when the social networking site hired a PR firm to plant damaging stories about the search engine company. This week Google finds themselves with a new adversary to contend with in the form of PayPal and its parent company, eBay.

PayPal, the widely utilized online payment system, has slapped a lawsuit down on the Googs for the alleged theft of trade secrets the search giant supposedly used in the development of its snappy new Google Wallet.

In case you haven't heard of the Google Wallet, it's a plan devised by the search engine company to replace your actual wallet with a virtual wallet that will be contained in a certain model of Sprint phone that at this point almost no one carries. There's an excellent blog post by Seth Weintraub about the Google Wallet you can read here.

The problem, according to PayPal, is that during the development of the plan for the wallet, Google lifted several key trade secrets related to mobile payments and related technologies. It seems that the Googs was paling around with PayPal for a couple of years negotiating a deal wherein PayPal would provide payment options for mobile app purchases made through Google's Android Market.

Apparently it was during this period that PayPal made the Googs privy to a number of trade secrets regarding mobile payments. Secrets that according to PayPal's lawsuit, Google has now shared with a number of launch partners for its wallet plan including American Eagle Outfitters, Subway, the Container Store and Walgreens.

The fundamental problem here may be that while Google was once content to be a helpful search engine it now seem intent on becoming all things to all people. And as we know from the longstanding tradition of athletes trying to become rappers, just because you're good at one thing doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be good at everything.

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