Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Silver Lining to eBay's Digital Dark Cloud?

From a recent press release:

For several months, has been adding more features and enhancing the functionality of its mobile website for customers who want to shop using the browser on their mobile phone. April 2nd 2008 announced the addition of TextBuyIt, the latest in a series of mobile offerings for customers.

“With today’s launch of TextBuyIt, any customer can now use any mobile device to shop and buy from, at anytime, anywhere they are,” said Howard Gefen, Director of Amazon Mobile Payments. “With TextBuyIt, if you’re walking out of a concert and want to buy a CD from the artist you just saw, or if you’re at dinner and a friend tells you about a great book you should read, all you have to do is get out your mobile device, send a text message to Amazon, reply to the response, confirm your order, and your item will be on its way. “It’s incredibly simple and convenient.”

In recent months, customers have used their mobile devices to purchase everything from books, to big screen HDTVs to $30,000 watches using Amazon's mobile website.

Contrast this with eBay's recent policy change confining digital goods to their Classified section. eBay's Brian Burke, Director Global Feedback Policy stated that this retrogressive step was to preserve the integrity of the Feedback system,

Digital goods are often reproduced at little to no cost to the seller. On eBay, this creates the potential for Feedback Manipulation (both real and perceived).

Strangely, at the recent Workshop for digital sellers Jim "Griff" Griffith, Dean of eBay Education, was pushing eBook sellers to place their books on other media.
The new policy also presents intriguing marketing opportunities for the enterprising seller of digital content to add value to their content by offering it on media that can be used for other purpose. For example, offering one or more eBooks or templates on a USB flash drive, SD, or Compact Flash memory card.

A quick search for 1G USB flash drive on eBay produced hundreds of listings starting at 1c with $8.99 S&H. This Marketing Solution will financially advantage eBay while simultaneously preventing feedback manipulation? How? It does raise the cost of buying feedback if feedback manipulators were stupid enough not to go look for a cheaper item.

The predictable furor from sellers of digital media, who were effectively put out of business on less than one weeks notice has possibly had one good result. Zipidee the Digi-Goods Marketplace is waiting to welcome them with open arms and has added an eBook category to facilitate the transaction. Zipidee has a rapidly expanding seller network of more than 1,000 content producers and distributors and over 150,000 repeat customers.

eBay’s recent decision to de-list digital sellers from its auction and fixed price listings has created a huge opportunity for us.

said Henry Wong, Zipidee CEO

“From its inception, Zipidee has embodied an open marketplace where video and audio creators have complete freedom to sell their digital products, at whatever price they choose, and in any category they want. Now we’re extending the same opportunity to eBook publishers. eBay’s decision to only list digital goods in the obscure Classified Ads is akin to hiding a needle in a haystack. This will dramatically reduce the monetization of sellers’ digital goods”

he added.

Having checked the Zipidee fee structure, ex-eBay sellers will need to re-evaluate their business plans. I believe craft related digital sellers will be better served at Etsy but others may find Zipidee to be the better solution compared to eBay Classified.

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