eBay Watch: Desktop Application Debuts

This week eBay launched the public beta of its hotly anticipated eBay Desktop application, powered by Adobe AIR technology.

This week eBay launched the public beta of its hotly anticipated eBay Desktop application, powered by Adobe AIR technology. Meanwhile, eBay admitted Skype wasn't quite worth the investment, and oddly enough, is now allowing sellers to use a competitor's call buttons on auction listings. We also discuss eBay's latest acquisition and the company's efforts to curb selling of recalled items. Plus, we tell you how online publishers can generate revenue with Mpire's new WidgetBucks platform and tell you all about an auction listing that is sure to have CSI fans everywhere drooling.

This Week in the News

An eBay Desktop That Runs On AIR
EBay finally launched a public beta version of eBay Desktop, an application that lets you manage your eBay tasks by logging into the auction site through the application rather than your browser. The eBay desktop offers some of the most common eBay features, such as search, bidding, watch lists and more.

From the home tab on the eBay Desktop you can easily access key areas such as favorite searches, browse eBay by category, see your watch list along with bidding items and recently viewed items. You can also save categories and favorite searches as well. The eBay Desktop also lets you add notes and reminders to items you have saved in your lists.

eBay Desktop
Auction on AIR: The eBay Desktop Application lets you skip the browser.
(Click for larger image.)

One thing I noticed right away is that the eBay Desktop spices up the surfing experience. It offers nice background colors, animated image movement on mouse-over and many other eye-pleasing features. You can read item descriptions and bid right from the application, so there is no need to open eBay in a browser to do any of the buying and browsing tasks.

The eBay desktop is also handy because once you have entered your keywords you can choose from a selection of filters, related keywords and related categories to find additional items. I can see many shoppers favoring the desktop application over the eBay Web site search box.

The eBay Desktop uses Adobe AIR technology which is the company's new platform for building and deploy Rich Internet Applications (define) to the desktop. Web-connected applications using Adobe AIR run, look and feel like a desktop application when used. The current public beta version of eBay Desktop is only available at the United States eBay site, and seller tools are not yet included. The beta is free to download and runs on Windows XP and Vista as well as Mac OS X 10.4 and higher systems.

Skype Downgraded While Jajah Invades eBay Pages
In eBay news this week the company announced a $1.4 billion impairment charge to Skype. In real words, this basically means eBay has said that Skype is not worth near the $2.6 billion that the company paid for it two years ago. Interestingly enough, eBay is also now allowing sellers to use Jajah Buttons on their eBay pages. Recently launched by Jajah, a provider of Web-activated telephony and a competitor to Skype, the new Jajah Buttons are specifically customized to allow eBay buyers and sellers to communicate.

Sellers can add Jajah buttons to their eBay auctions and eBay Stores pages to let a buyer contact the seller before placing a bid or making a purchase. Jajah has a special tutorial on its Web site that provides detailed instruction on how to use the new Jajah Buttons. According to the information published on the Jajah Web site, the company offers global phone calls at local rates and does not require a contact to use. A rate price chart is also available for those interested in trying the new Jajah Buttons on their eBay pages.

With Skype drowning in red ink, I have to wonder if we'll be featuring Skype as our favorite auction of the week in a future edition of eBay Watch.

eBay Acquires Afterbuy.com
eBay Inc. acquired ViA-Online GmbH, a German auction management software company that operates Afterbuy.com. Afterbuy is an all-in-one online sales tool and covers all processes of the selling workflow from goods and inventory management to item listing, cross-selling and transaction and pre-sale management. Afterbuy will continue to operate under its current brand name and will remain in Krefeld, Germany. Terms of the agreement between eBay Inc. and ViA-Online GmbH have not been disclosed.

eBay Steps Up Policy on Selling Recalled Items
This week eBay says it is working with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to educate both consumers and sellers on recent toy recalls during the upcoming holiday shopping season. To help keep recalled toys and other items off the auction Web site, eBay placed links to its Recalled Items policy on various product category pages. The auction company will also send messages to sellers who deal in categories that may be affected by recent recalls. Meanwhile, eBay offered the following tips for buyers and sellers:

  • Understand the Policy. If you see a link to eBay's Recalled Items policy on a particular category page, follow the link and read about how eBay deals with recalled items on the site.
  • Watch the eBay Announcement Board. There is posted information on its Announcement Board for each of the last three major recalls. These posts provide additional details and tells consumers where to send questions.
  • Consult the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The CPSC posts the serial numbers and dates of manufacture for all recalled products. When in doubt about a particular item, consult this list.
  • Ask the Seller a Question. If you believe an item you are interested in bidding on or purchasing may be part of a recall, we encourage you to use the Ask Seller a Question feature to verify the serial number, which can then be cross-checked with the CPSC.
  • Tell eBay. If you have reason to suspect that an item has been recalled, you can report it to eBay. At the bottom of every item for sale, there is a "Report this Item" button for you to send it to our Customer Support teams to review.

eBay and PayPal Team With Yahoo! To Combat Phishing
Lastly in eBay news this week , Yahoo, eBay, and PayPal have announced a collaboration that they say will help better protect consumers against fraudulent e-mails and phishing attacks. Any eBay or PayPal members who use Yahoo! Mail should start receiving fewer fake e-mails claiming to be sent by eBay and PayPal. Yahoo! Mail is the first Web mail service to say they will block these types of malicious messages that appear to be from eBay and PayPal, but are actually scams. The blocking service uses DomainKeys e-mail authentication technology.

New eBay & E-Commerce Tools

Mpire Offers WidgetBucks
Shopping service Mpire launched WidgetBucks, an e-commerce ad network offering flash-based applications that publishers can incorporate onto their own pages to serve up ads. WidgetBucks is based on a CPM model and advertising revenues are split between Mpire and publishers. WidgetBucks automatically displays the most popular products, which Mpire says is based on the buying trends of 100 million shoppers. The new widgets offer $3-$6 CPM and current product offers come from over 30,000 merchants, including Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Gap and other well-known names.

Only on eBay...

This week our favorite IT is all about crime — and not the kind of cyber-crime we usually talk about in conjunction with eBay. Fans of the popular CSI show, including myself, are wishing they had a pretty big horde of greenbacks laying around right now.

Only on eBay
Hey Doll: Original prop used in CSI Living Doll episode.
(Click for larger image.)

Up for grabs on the eBay auction block is an official CBS CSI replica TV prop of Gil Grissom's office. With the Miniature Killer case solved, and a new season underway, those who watch with bated breath each week have the opportunity to bid on one of the best CSI collectables ever made available. This model listed on eBay is an exact replica of Gil Grissom's office and is the original prop used in the "Living Doll" episode from Season 7. It weighs a mere 4 pounds and the estimated value of the model is $25,000.

Bidding is open only to pre-approved bidders and 100 percent of the final sale price will support the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association. With just a couple days left, the price is up to $15,200 by some 75 bidders.

Vangie Beal is a seasoned eBay seller, frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide and managing editor of Webopedia.

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