When I was at Epinions, we knew Froogle was coming. Needless to say, this was the source of some consternation. Google had traffic (and lots of it), money (and lots of it) and, well, mojo (and lots of it). So there was some concern that Froogle was going to be a game-changer in ways that would adversely affect Epinions.
That was before we learned that not everything Google touches turns to gold. So when Google recently “demoted” Froogle by removing it from one of the coveted home page/search page links, it was a tacit admission that Froogle hasn’t taken over the world. I can only assume that Froogle’s traffic is going to drop substantially; and I for one have never found Froogle all that useful. Google’s failure to hit a home run is a pretty dramatic development for those in the shopping comparison business.
I do think there’s a lesson to take away from this. While a start-up can’t ignore the competition, it shouldn’t overreact either…and in Google’s specific case, it is temptingly easy to overreact when Google moves into a business given Google’s spotty history with new projects.
UPDATE: The likelihood of Froogle’s demise is growing, with Google saying that it will “de-emphasize” Froogle, eliminate it as a standalone site, and integrate Froogle’s results into its standard search results page.