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Business Possibilities for eBay Auctions - BrainDump

Many companies have thought seriously about acquiring Skype, but eBay and the VOIP provider have made public plans to close a deal by the end of next year. The proposed deal has everyone scratching their heads in confusion. In this internet littered with stupid business ideas, will this one stand out for its questionable foresight and nonexistent synergy?

  1. After Skype Sells, Will eBay Suffer Buyer`s Remorse?
  2. Business Possibilities for eBay Auctions
  3. Skype for Outsourcing and Globalization
  4. Skype's Expensive User Base
  5. Making Sense of a 3 Stage Business Plan
By: Developer Shed
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September 19, 2005

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There are two ways that eBay could use Skype. One of these might be worth the cash that the dot com is willing to throw down, the other is rather frivolous.

Let's look at the nearly worthless way first: allowing fast and easy communication between buyers and sellers in their auctions. Currently, buyers can post questions on message boards for auctions, allowing everyone to see the seller’s answers. This makes sense. Buyers can also ask questions via email. However, eBay currently does not have their own realtime communications network.

But does it need one? How many sellers list their telephone numbers on auction pages to let buyers question them? Are buyers and sellers at any loss for instant messaging services use? What advantage is eBay branded service over established, third-party options?

To make it simple, I imagine some buyers wouldn’t mind calling up sellers long distance to ask trivial questions about a video tape for sale. However, do many sellers want to hear their phone ring every time somebody in the country wants to ask a question, one that is probably answered clearly in the ad? (“Uh, can you tell me how old is that 1975 8 track player you listed?”) Those who sign up for the service may soon tire of it. One of the advantages of using eBay over a yard sale is that you don't need to tend to customers, not to mention the relative anonymity. Some “professional” sellers who have eBay stores might see an advantage to this, and I grant that it could be nice for them to have a cheap way to talk to buyers long distance. But this misses the point.

There is no way that purchasing Skype for this purpose will enhance auctions any more than a business partnership with Skype (and is only a marginal advantage over adding a “Seller Phone Number:” field in their listings). It will provide an obvious way for eBay to make more money from an auction than if they got a little kickback from Skype for providing links. Also, eBay branded instant messaging between buyers and sellers will show no benefit at all over simply listing an AIM or MSN screen name on an auction. In fact, it may make people angry to have to download another messaging client.

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