September 12, 2005

Skyping a good deal on eBay

When I heard about eBay and Skype, my first reaction was how they could integrate buyers and sellers in an Internet enhance community. Sort of what this article from on ZDNet talks about. (emphasis added)
I realized that in some ways, what Oracle and eBay are doing is similar, although they're operating at opposite ends of the longtail: they're both selling tools for people who sell things to interact with the people who want to buy.

Hmm. What other companies likes to build tools for people who sell things? Google has Froogle and Google Talk - I wonder if those would be integrated following an eBay and Skype integration (whatever that might turn into).

More interestingly, Skype, with it's huge installed base and proprietary protocol would make a marvelous P2P auction platform.

I doubt Skype would morph into an auction platform - it's a phone and buddy list application. I could see integrated customer service, but that would cost a bunch of money and most eBay sellers don't have the profit margin for that. I think Skype is just a good business bet all by itself - the integration with internet commerce is just icing on the cake.

eBay has always been a walled-garden because eBay is afraid, and rightly so, that if they let merchants and customers contact each other directly, the transaction could happen off-network with eBay not getting their cut. Having control of the client on the desktop gives them better control and consequently enables richer merchant and buyer interaction–that's a big win for eBay.

Hmm, yes. Direct connect between buyers and sellers (disintermediation) is their big bugaboo, but Craigslist does this already and eBay has something like a 25% stake in Craigslist, so they are no strangers to that channel.

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