Big news this afternoon from the Wall Street Journal, which reports that Microsoft "recently" explored creating an e-commerce marketplace that would compete with Amazon and eBay.
Unnamed sources told reporters Greg Bensinger and Shira Ovide that the Redmond, Wash.-based company held discussions with potential partners about such a venture, but it "recently pulled the plug" on the effort.
It was code-named "Project Brazil."
The pair report:
The software giant held discussions with retailers and technology companies about a marketplace, proposing to equip it with an array of merchants, as well as a unified shopping cart and broad shipping options, according to these people. To lure shoppers, Microsoft was considering subsidizing the price of goods on its e-commerce service using a portion of advertising dollars merchants spend on Microsoft's Bing Web-search engine or elsewhere, said the people.
Why did it cancel the project? We don't know.
What we do know is that Microsoft wants a "task-oriented" and "direct" approach to e-commerce and online advertising, it told the Journal. We also know that the company seeks to integrate it fully with its Windows operating system (desktop and mobile) and Xbox gaming platform.
We can infer one additional point: Microsoft is on the hunt for more revenue. E-commerce is certainly a growing (trillion-dollar) market, but taking on an established leader like Amazon is no easy task. (Just ask Walmart.)
What were executives thinking? We're dying to know. (If you know anything about this project, drop us a line.)