eBay Unveils App Store

Software developers gain a new marketplace, while buyers see a new source of software for business and other uses.

eBay sellers today will be able to access third-party applications for the first time as the e-commerce giant opens its app marketplace.

The third-party apps offered through the store are aimed at eBay sellers, and provide tools for them to manage and streamline their online businesses. The apps run on eBay's Selling Manager and Selling Manager Pro services.

eBay first opened the platform to developers several months ago, shifting it from a console to manage listings to an open platform on which third-party developers can create and sell applications for sellers' my.ebay.com pages.

Through the arrangement, merchants using Selling Manager get access to new tools, which developers sell through the marketplace on a subscription basis. eBay, meanwhile, gets a share of the revenue from sales of the apps, and handles the billing for developers.

"eBay's Selling Manager Applications Platform ... makes it easy to find and subscribe to tools that can help our customers increase the efficiency and velocity of their businesses on eBay," Dinesh Lathi, vice president of eBay's seller experience, said in a statement.

For developers, it's a relatively sizable market: So far, eBay said it has 270,000 sellers using Selling Manager.

"Selling Manager Applications addresses the need of developers to more readily connect eBay sellers who are seeking useful tools for their eBay businesses," Kumar Kandaswamy, eBay's platform senior manager, said in a statement.

While the Selling Manager app service launches with only a dozen applications, eBay is optimistic about its future expansion. For one thing, the online auction giant already has a robust community of developers, with more than 96,000 having signed on to use its API and having authored more than 13,000 live applications. Kandaswamy also said that 28 percent of eBay listings in 2008 went through third-party applications using eBay APIs.

The eBay Selling Manager Applications service is a continuation of a project eBay announced last year called Project Echo -- aimed at opening up the Selling Manager tool, which to date has only offered eBay's own tools to sellers.

eBay's continuing transformation

The news comes at a time when eBay is undergoing a radical transformation from an online auction company to a fixed-price platform selling liquidated inventory in an effort to capture market share back from rival Amazon. As a result, the e-commerce giant has made significant seller policy changes involving fees, transaction ratings and the criteria for perks for its PowerSeller program.

Also part of eBay's new strategy is focusing on expanding the overseas business of its PayPal online payment service, and opening that platform up to developers as well.

For the meantime, opening Selling Manager to third-party apps can help eBay capitalize on the growing interest in app platforms that appeal to small, independent software developers -- a trend that's propelled efforts like Salesforce.com's AppExchange and Apple's App Store to new heights.

As with other application marketplace like Apple's closely monitored App Store, eBay signs-off on applications before they go live on its service.

"Applications that pass eBay's rigorous approval process will be put in front of an active audience of more than 270,000 professional eBay sellers," Kandaswamy said.

Selling Manager Applications are free to try, with a trial period typically lasting between a week to 30 days.

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com.

Tags: Amazon, software, eBay, policy, Salesforce.com

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