Google Catalogs launched as an iPad and Android app in August 2011. Just ahead of the holiday shopping season, Google is now also making this service available on the web. Google Catalogs on the web will feature brochures from about 300 brands, including the likes of Williams-Sonoma, J.Crew, Eddie Bauer, and Bose. From within the catalogs, shoppers can click on featured items to get more information and, of course, buy them from the retailers’ own sites.
If you’re hoping to browse the latest electronics catalogs, though, you will likely be disappointed by Google Catalog’s selection. The focus here is clearly on mainstream consumers. The featured catalogs currently include Fossil, Crate & Barrel, HarthSong and The Wisconsin Cheeseman (which apparently also lets you buy your cheese on a monthly installment plan).
Google says it plans to “incorporate catalogs more deeply throughout the Google Shopping experience, giving you more ways to find ideas and inspiration as you shop and engage with your favorite brands.”
This, of course, isn’t Google’s first foray into digitizing catalogs. All the way back in 2001, the company launched a beta version of Google Catalogs that allowed users to browse their PC Connection catalogs online. That service, however, was retired in 2009 (and had already been rather neglected before this). Google then resurrected the concept as a mobile app before last year’s holiday season.
Google provides search and advertising services, which together aim to organize and monetize the world’s information. In addition to its dominant search engine, it offers a plethora of online tools and platforms including: Gmail, Maps, YouTube, and Google+, the company’s extension into the social space. Most of its Web-based products are free, funded by Google’s highly integrated online advertising platforms AdWords and AdSense. Google promotes the idea that advertising should be highly targeted and relevant to users thus providing...