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Mobile bidders more likely to win auctions: eBay exec

August 19, 2009

ebayBOSTON — Francesco Rovetta, director of mobile at auction trade platform eBay Inc., doesn’t have the swagger of one who knows history is on his side. But he is confident that mobile plays a major role in eBay’s future.

A keynote speaker at the ongoing Mobile Internet World show organized this week by Yankee Group, Mr. Rovetta sat down with Mobile Marketer’s Mickey Alam Khan to discuss eBay plans for mobile, progress made and market trends. In Mr. Rovetta’s words:

EBay Mobile’s goal is to make the eBay experience available anywhere, anytime, on any device and making it in a way that’s absolutely easy for the user.

One of our core focus factors is to really provide the best user experience.

Today, we have a large portfolio — 13 mobile Web properties across North America, Europe and Australia. We have clients in native applications on the iPhone, which was launched last July. [It was] extremely successful. We experienced a run rate of around 7,000 downloads of the Apple app per day and it’s available now in 13 eBay markets.

In addition to that, we havea J2ME client which is distributed by our carrier partners in the U.S. and Europe.

And last, we have a notification service through text messaging which allows users to keep track of the items they’ve been watching or keeping an eye on, which highlights the time-critical-nature advantage the user has in using the cell phone.

All the categories that are basically available on eBay are found or sourced on eBay Mobile — a plane, a dining table or a lunch with Warren Buffett, whatever that’s worth today.

One successful integration is the PayPal integration. What we really do is allow the user once they’ve found the item or object they’re looking for and they’re able to pay through a PayPal account through the same session in an end-to-end flow. And we see a fantastic response from users.

We found that about half of all eBay Mobile users start their eBay session from their cell phone rather than starting from a PC and then moving to a cell phone. Which demonstrates first the willingness of the user to make the full use of a new medium provided they’re given the right user experience which is something that’s been echoed by other industry professionals in the last two days of the conference.

Another interesting data point is that users who have been bidding from their cell phone are more likely to win the auction. And the reason is that since the phone is always with the user all the time, it’s much easier to react or act at the end of the auction or to a bid from another user.

It’s really about bringing convenience to the users and facilitating the activity they want to perform.

Our intention is to continue providing an excellent user experience. We actually recently launched the completely new redesign of our Web properties which has significantly improved the overall experience by reducing complexities and by enhancing user experience.

I think the eBay Mobile user is a typical eBay user with a caveat obviously that mobile has been a relatively new way to access our services and we see a trend towards a larger number of users driven by the early adopters of technology.

In terms of patterns, besides the obvious difference that the typical mobile phone usage requires, such patterns or behaviors are fairly consistent with what we’ve seen from eBay users.

In addition, iPhone users have obviously been using not only the device but the service by a higher multiple than the typical mobile user. And this is consistent with the patterns that the industry has experienced and we worked hard to make the most of the features and functionality of device.

The iPhone, in our opinion, has really provided an electro-shock to the mobile industry. And most importantly showed to the users what they can do with the mobile phone — what applications are available, what content and services they can easily access.

Mobile is a great way to enhance the power of our brand and our users have greatly appreciated the experience that is provided by our portfolio of products.

We see mobile as a perfect companion to the PC in terms of accessibility and an extension of the eBay experience.

[Also], the impression that I had from a few months ago, besides the economic situation and the concern people naturally have, the mobile mood is pretty upbeat. It’s more positive than it used to be.

Whether it’s the result of the iPhone wave, the arrival of the Android phones, or a combination of all of these factors, I certainly see more optimism based on actual numbers and market reactions.

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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