It looks like MSN will soon release a free classifieds service with some social twists. This idea has a lot of promise. Classifieds are most definitely a social phenomenon in that they typically result in an offline, face-to-face interaction with another human. Also, sometimes consumers want to trade in smaller communities where they know or have some sort of connection with other people (e.g., on college campuses, on company bulletin boards).
I'm not surprised that it's free. As I've mentioned in previous posts, the market price for a basic classified listings has already been established as free. Any consumer can post a free listing in Craigslist and now a growing list of sites including GoogleBase, Backpage, Geebo, LiveDeal, etc. They can also post in on their website or in their blog and pay Google, Yahoo to advertise it.
I'm most interested to see what kind of biz model they employ or at least what model they hint at in this initial release. I'm also excited about adding another quality source to our index ;)