34 Weeks of OHA: #6

Open Handset Alliance Member Profiles (Week #6 – eBay )
For 34 weeks, each Tuesday, Jordan from fandroid.net will be joining us to offer a profile of each of the 34 members of the Open Handset Alliance.

Company Name:

How the OHA site classifies them: Software Company

What the OHA site says about them: Nothing. The name eBay kinda speaks for itself.

What they do: “eBay is The World’s Online Marketplace®, enabling trade on a local, national and international basis. With a diverse and passionate community of individuals and small businesses, eBay offers an online platform where millions of items are traded each day.”

If you don’t already know what eBay is, you’re kinda beyond my help. They are, along with Amazon and Google, one of the pantheon of companies that have gone past web success story and deep into holy-sh*t-that’s-a-massive-company territory.

But they’re a company with spiritually uplifting goals, as well. Check out this bit: “Ultimately, eBay Inc. will raise the expectations—and aspirations—of people around the world as they seek to connect, discover and interact with each other.” Man, that’s groovy. eBay seeks to raise the aspirations of people in regards to the profit that can be had from the crap in their attic or by fooling people into paying exhorbitant sums for a picture of an Xbox (I know, I’m cynical).

The crown jewel of eBay’s empire is, of course, eBay.com and its many international variants, the online shopping and auction powerhouse that is the locus for tens of billions of dollars worth of transactions yearly. eBay as a concept was a game changer, redefining the commercial possibilities of the Internet and truly making it possible to buy anything online (and, moreover, making it possible to profit by selling anything online).

In 2002, eBay acquired PayPal, the leading online money transfer service. Then, in 2005, Skype was purchased for an astonishing $2.6 billion dollars, an amount that eBay has since admitted was probably too much.

What they bring to OHA and Android: They’re one of the largest players on the Internet. That alone should be good enough.

In the auction space, I can’t see eBay on a mobile handset to be a big draw. Aside from being able to monitor auctions down to the last minute from wherever you are, what’s the point? A killer app, this is not.

PayPal, on the other hand, now there’s a great mobile app. Real-time money transfers on a mobile phone? The ability to not only pay for goods and services with your handset, but also get your friend the five bucks you owe? Making Paypal truly mobile puts it in a league where it can start competing with Debit cards or even cash. And if I’m making POS purchases using my phone, and eBay and Google can tap into that demographic information, the targeted advertising possibilities are staggering (and more than a little scary).

Skype is the other killer app, for obvious reasons in a world with WiFi-enabled phones and pay-per-minute talk-time models. As the largest player in the market, Skype has the clear advantage over any competition. In the VOIP universe, the size of the subscriber base is directly related to the convenience of the service. Already Skype offers mobile clients, and most likely they would for Android as well, but what if that client was completely integrated? What if your handset automatically made use of the Skype network to make calls when WiFi was available, or when that call was long distance?

It’s in PayPal and Skype that eBay’s membership in the OHA becomes exciting.

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  1. That’s a nice quick overview of eBay and what it might do with Android.

    I am personally very much looking forward to mobile payment and there may be several variants of it… especially in the early adopter phase. Outside Japan and South Korea, it hasn’t spread much. Infrastructure security issues and many inked deals are prerequisites for a mobile wallet to become a widespread reality.

    An integrated, opted-in Skype client for VoIP is also an option, which I believe will come second to SIP and XMPP-based solutions with greater coverage. Skype user base kind of already hit the ceiling and eBay now has a blurred vision for Skype.


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