Google to challenge eBay with classified advertising launch

LONDON - Google is looking to launch a free online classified advertising service called Google Base to rival eBay, it has emerged after a test site was posted on the internet.

The test site has now been withdrawn but was up long enough to hint the service will offer a range of advertising, including used cars and party planning. It is understood that this is also likely to be free to sellers and buyers.

Google has confirmed that the test site is genuine but said the service is in the early stages of development.

Tom Oliveri, Google product marketing manager, said: "We are testing a new way for content owners to submit their content to Google, which we hope will complement existing methods such as our web crawl and Google sitemaps. We think it's an exciting product, and we'll let you know when there's more news."

This is just the latest in a string of recent brand expansions for Google. Last month, it emerged that the firm is to launch a WiFi offering called Google Secure Access.

It is also looking at digitising millions of books, through its Google Print, Google Scholar and Google Library projects.

However, its march across the information and communication sectors have not been without hitches. The Google Library initiative has sparked outrage among authors in the US concerned about copyright infringements.

Last week, it was forced to change the name of its email service Gmail to Googlemail.com in the UK following a trademark dispute with a London-based firm called Independent International Research.

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