I read lots of chatter about the Google Phone (or GPhone) that is suppose to revolutionize the phone industry, and I now I am starting to hear about the Google Computer as well, which I imagine would be loaded with as many anti-Microsoft applications as possible, and of course have some sort of built in AdSense toolbar.
But here’s my free advice of the day to Google – why spend your time on these massively complex projects going up against angry and entrenched competitors (Verizon, Microsoft, Dell – I wouldn’t even want to dispute my phone bill with these companies), when there is much easier money sitting right in front of you, waiting to be grabbed. Attention Google: you need to create a Google Credit Card!
I envision a card that works something like this. First, for businesses: for every $100 you spend, you get $1 of AdWords credit. For every $100 you spend on AdWords, you get $3 AdWords credit, and if you link your credit card to your Google Checkout account, every $100 you spend via Google Checkout gets you $5 of AdWords credit.
For consumers, for every $100 you spend, you get $1 of credit toward the standard affinity card goodies (trips, MP3 players, etc) and when you link your Google Credit Card (OK, let’s be honest, it will definitely be called the “GCard”) to your Google Checkout account, that $1 turns into $5. And for consumers, here’s the additional cool draw: not only do you get a credit card that says “Google” on it in big letters (cool factor for your friends), but you can also redeem your points for awesome Google rewards, from the mundane (Google t-shirts, lava lamps) to the fantastic (10,000,000 points for a ride in the Google Plane with Larry and Sergei; 100,000,000 points and you get to design a special holiday logo on Google; 1 billion points and you get your own sub-domain on Google, like Rodnitzky.Google.com!)
Think of how much money already passes through Google via AdWords and Google Checkout. And then think about how much Google prefers to replace middlemen. And finally think about how giving businesses AdWords credit is such a round trip win-win for Google as a credit card company (i.e.: thanks for spending money with the Google credit card. Here’s some money back that you have to spend on Google.) This is a huge opportunity.
This being Google there would of course have to be some clever twist on the whole credit card industry. Perhaps they would never charge an annual fee but you had to pay your bill online (and to get to the bill pay page, you had to go through several pages of AdSense ads). Maybe like GMail, your credit limit would start low but would continually increase (“never not buy anything again”, sort of like “never delete email again”). Or like the forks at the Google cafeteria, perhaps the credit card could be made out of recycled potatoes – the first biodegradable credit card!
Most of these ideas are silly – I know – but the idea of Google Credit Card really isn’t. Now I know that some of you old-timers will remind me that Yahoo once had (still has?) a credit card that they pushed pretty heavily for a while. Indeed, in the early 2000s, I believe it was standard operating procedure for every consumer-facing online business to have a private-labeled credit card.
I have no idea what happened to the Yahoo card (or the Webvan card, eToys card, or any of the other cards that once existed). I do know that I still use my Amazon card (though only for Amazon purchases). And even if the Yahoo card failed, the Google card I describe above would be different, if only because they could link rewards to AdWords credit and because Google simply has a more powerful brand that Yahoo ever had.
So what are you waiting for Google? I know that trying to simultaneously destroy the phone, computer, newspaper, radio, and software industries is a lot of fun, but sometimes you have to take a step back and pick up the cash that’s just lying there waiting for you. One word Google: plastic.