There's lots of higher level discussion about the greater repurcussions of this move and the philosophical, economic, etc. impact. I'm curious why no one seems to be evaulating this approach from the consumer perspective though. I haven't used the service yet but from what I understand there are two major things it offers, both of which are *extremely* attractive to me. 1: A singler user name and password combo to handle payment on many different payment sites. Assuming this service gets adopted quickly, and being Google it should (especially given that they're undercutting other similar providers), that means I should have a much easier buying experience on lots of shopping sites soon. 2: Unless I'm reading these articles wrong it says I can "track the status of my orders" from Google's payment management console. If that's true, and if it extends to even tracking shipping details, that's huge to me. I hate having to go to each merchant's site to track each individual purchase! Especially when they are smaller merchants, they don't all offer the same services, or level of service, or do things the same way. If Google has figured out a way to provide a uniform level of service for partner merchant transactions that is of great interest to me as a consumer.
What's the trade-off? Google gets my purchase data. Whoopdee-doo. I don't trust Google any less than I trust Joe-random merchant, and probably a bit more at least. And they also increase costs to advertisers, but those costs seem justified because the ads are a lot more targetted. Meanwhile my own ad-based search results, which have always been present, may potentially be more "relevant" *if I am logged in to Google when searching*. Say I want to not have those "relevant ads" - just log out and clear cookies. No problem.
So from an immediate perspective this definitely doesn't seem bad for the consumer. I think the only reasonable argument that it may be hinges on the assumption that product costs will go up due to increased ad cost. But, at least in theory, the ads are now more targeted and so advertisers get more value out of them in terms of purchases, and thus should have no reason to increase product price. In fact you could argue the opposite, that in theory since advertisers can basically now only pay for successful transactions, they can much more precisely determine their marketing overhead for each transaction and budget accordingly, thus potentially allowing them to reduce cost to be more competitive.
Ultimately I do see there are concerns with this. But just as I have always tried to be fair with Microsoft and each move they make, despite their "evil" reputation, I like to do the same with Google. It is good to be critical and cautious up-front with any major feature launch from a company like this, especially one that deals with money and your financial details in general. It just feels like most people are being knee-jerk reactionaries and calling foul based on a lot of assumption and an incomplete assessment of not only the facts but the possible outcomes.
Am I a Google fanboy? I don't think so, but maybe. I haven't used 75% of the new services they've debuted in the past 2 years. I don't use GMail (not because I don't like how it works, I just don't need/want it), I'm not interested in Google Desktop, I don't use the Google Toolbar, I rarely visit Google News. In fact my Google use has stayed pretty consistently focused on main search and image search for years now, with Google Maps on the rise in my use of late simply because I like the interface. I use a smaller percentage of Microsoft products, but they also have a much wider range of products. With both companies I am simply focused on trying to realistically evaluate their services, both from a personal (do I want to use this?) as well as broader (how will this effect things?) perspective. I guess maybe I'm just an optimist?