James Governor's Monkchips

MS, Google, and Yahoo? Nah – eBay, that’s a web 2.0 player

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If Web 2.0 is about the “web site as platform” then eBay is in particularly good shape. Like Amazon, its used as a trading platform by an army of small vendors. I can still remember my surprise the first time I talked to a small book seller and he raved about Amazon. Disintermediation – nope. This was about enfranchisement. Getting on the network is like getting the vote.  
When IBM and Microsoft announce strategies to target SMBs, quite often they might as well as say – target eBay customers. The guys I sublet from in London, YellowPark, built a cool .NET shopfront, with credit card authorisation and all that good stuff. But guess what – it didn’t drive sales. eBay does.
eBay has made a couple of canny moves in the last couple of weeks (thanks Alex for reminding me to post on this issue.
A platform has APIs that developers write to. eBay has those. And now they are free. That means lower barriers to entry, the key to community-building.
A Web 2.0 platform will offer feed-based workflows. eBay now supports RSS.
Thanks to Alex Barnett, my friendly neighbourhood OPML freak, for reminding me to post about eBay. He says:
We’ll start seeing many more eBay mash-ups now the cost of playing with eBay’s APIs is now down to zero”
I loved the rhetorical comment from Om Malik, about Web 2.0 exit strategies, but it also shows how short our memories are. Surely eBay and Amazon are in the mix?
I mean, these companies generate scads of cash as a service people pay for. That relationship has to be worth something in Web 2.0.
Ad-supported services will be part of the Web 2.0 world, but so will per transaction pricing. As long as you make 2c in massvolume, there is money to be made.
I wouldn’t write eBay off, just because it has had some issues with customers. What large firm hasn’t?
The fact is my friend Tanya uses eBay to buy baby clothes, while another friend Paul Rigby, who has the best music taste I have ever come across, loves to buy low and sell high. He is an eBay junkie, but wouldn’t know an API from an adword. He doesn’t use Microsoft applications. He may not know what an API is, but remixes and mashups – he is all about that.
eBay has a future in Web 2.0 – especially if it can keep lowering the barriers to entry. And you don’t think free phone calls plays into that?


  1. I also meant to include this story about urchin – three models of web 2.0 money making

    subscription, ad-supported, per transaction

    the first one needs managed QoS – google actually isn’t v good at that.


  2. I really appreciate your comment on eBay. Their open APIs represent a very formidable actant in the Web 2.0 showdown. I’m particularly interested to see how eBay extends their commitment to open APIs into Skype. IMHO combining Skype for communication (i.e., keeping information acquisition costs low) and eBay/PayPal for commerce (i.e., keeping transaction costs low) creates a very competent contender.

    Here’s my take on it:


  3. nice take george. one implication of your analysis – is eBay on course to become a web 2.0 CRM company?

    I mean that if we move beyond thinking of CRM as salesforce automation, suddenly semantics of trust in commercial relationships become much more important. customer relationship is fundamentally a function of trust, and eBay has alsways been a network of trust – step outside and pay by money order and you’re going to get burned.

    the most savvy vendors are rated by the market in real time and act accordingly. they know the customer relationship is too important to screw up.

    Dell is a great example of a company that has taken its eye of the ball with respect to trust. it may have great CRM systems, but how come so many customers are ranting about poor service, in that respect?

    a phone call is a great way to foster strong customer relationships. again eBAy is in good shape here.

    eBay is a platform for trusted transactions. that’s why its interesting from a web 2.0 perspective, once you open the APIs.

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