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eBay going the open source route

June 17, 2008

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Late yesterday, eBay said it will allow third-party developers to integrate their applications directly into the eBay auction platform by giving their applications more direct access to the website's 700,000 professional sellers and retailers.

eBay revealed the details at its seventh annual eBay Developers Conference yesterday in Chicago to approximately 700 attendees and various eBay members.

"Overall, third party developers need eBay's help with marketing and distribution, and eBay sellers consistently seek better tools to help them scale," noted Max Mancini, platform senior director at the Internet auction giant.

The company already boasts a community of about 70,000 developers, and eBay already has a developer program that lets third parties build apps that make listing and managing items for sale more efficient, particularly for power sellers.

This new venture gives developers more direct access to the site's Selling Manager online tool. "Opening directly to third-party applications through the Selling Manager gives developers an immediate channel to growth-minded eBay sellers," he added.

eBay's new program is only in its nascent stages of development. But the company says its pro sellers that already use advanced selling features in Selling Manager will be able to find and subscribe to third-party tools the same way they do now for eBay-developed tools.

Interested subscribers will get a free, 30-day evaluation period to trial applications.

External applications built using eBay Web Services already account for more than 28 percent of all listings, the company reports, noting that it believes the new program will bring tighter and more lucrative integration between eBay and third-party developers.

Usher Lieberman, an eBay spokesperson says "initially, we are opening it just for Selling Manager because it's the best opportunity for developers to monetize their operation. It's the single largest opportunity on"

"We'll be looking at other ways of opening the site, but initially we want to focus on working with developers to get it right, and Selling Manager is the best way for us to do that," added Lieberman.

eBay says its program, which is called "Project Echo," is currently in an alpha pilot and will be open for wider developer participation and eBay seller adoption in the beta release -- which won't hit until the first quarter of 2009.

While the auction giant is opening up access, the company still has a gatekeeper. eBay says that interested developers will be required to meet site standards for trusted buying and selling experiences.

"We also get access to previously unavailable eBay data that will allow us to add functionality requested by our ezSupport customers. It represents a new frontier for us to drive customer adoption of our application," he said.

Overall, Project Echo's main goals is to offer developers a chance to tap into eBay's internal features like never before, noted Jerad Schempp, chief operating officer of Hosted Support, which provides eBay-focused solutions.

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Source: eBay.

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