Google Base & the Semantic Web
Google is rumoured to unveil a service called "Google Base" at tomorrows Zeitgeist conference. At base.google.com it said (for a while):
Google Base is Google’s database into which you can add all types of content. We’ll host your content and make it searchable online for free. [...] You can describe any item you post with attributes, which will help people find it when they search Google Base.
The way I see it, this is very similar to a simple Semantic Web vision (a database like web) just with central storage. It tries to solve some part of what the Semantic Web set out to solve (having structured content on the web). But everybody should be clear that you can't remove the "Web" from "Semantic Web" at no cost - having all this data under their control hands Google a unique position on the search market - a position that then is almost impossible to challenge. Just like Google Print and Froogle this is an attempt to bind costumers to Google by getting exlusive content that is only searchable through Google. Semantic Web researches should be aware that Google cannot be interested in the Semantic Web, because the Semantic Web would make it easier to challenge Google. Google wants structured data - but it wants it exclusively.
Update: Google did not unveil the service, but they wrote a short bit about it on their blog.