Techcrunch is doing the teasing about a new Windows Live service codenamed “Fremont” that is supposed to launch in the next few weeks:
I had a chance to see a demo of the product – it’s very cool and will definitely shake things up.
However, one of the commenters spoils the suspense by pointing to a blog post that apparently describes it:
This product represents a unique offering by Microsoft to address the person-to-person marketplace. The product, code-named “Fremont,” is a dynamic new listing service that enables people to easily buy, sell, or swap among friends, co-workers, or the public. Fremont enhances your ability to:
* Connect with those you trust – your messenger buddies and your coworkers,
* Locate items in your neighborhood or across the country through integration with MapPoint and Windows Live Local (formerly Virtual Earth),
* List easily, instantly, and for free.
His conclusion is that it is a better Google Base, although there is a distinct classified ad flavor that isn’t inherent in Google Base despite the way it seems to be turning out. Should Craigslist, eBay, and the dead tree classified publishers be worried? Or in the latter case, more worried:
Murdoch once described revenue from these pages as “rivers of gold”. Yet presumably his concern over the future of the classified market was at least partly behind his sale of The Times Education Supplement group last month.
“Sometimes rivers dry up,” he says when reminded of his old quote. “This is a generational thing; we’ve been talking a 15- or 20-year slide on this. Certainly I don’t know anybody under 30 who has ever looked at a classified advertisement in a newspaper. With broadband they do more and more transactions and job-seeking online.”
I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned.
Update: Related: Google to Go Hard After Classifieds.
Update 2: Ben Charny confirms the suppositions above in eWeek. Fremont seems to be Microsoft’s version of Google Base with a stronger classified advertising flavor:
While created to serve primarily as an online marketplace, Fremont, and similar initiatives pre-dating it, serve a much broader purpose.
Each of these Web sites represents a way for individuals or businesses without any Internet presence to become more visible to to the Internet-using community.
For a business or individual, it means taking part in the growing amount of online commerce. From an Internet search provider’s perspective, introducing these facets means more Web pages to sell ads on.