I’m really in shock about the big purchase by eBay today. If you haven’t read it yet, eBay purchased the king of internet telephony Skype for a minimum of 2.6 billion (as much as 4 billion). While everyone is discussing whether or not eBay overpaid, I’m more interested in what this means. As someone who is very interested in the role of voice integrated in websites to boost trust and therefore “grease the wheels,” of commerce. A couple of thoughts:
“click to call”
- ebay can now offer the option of letting their sellers pay to receive phone calls with questions. This really is a winner for the big ticket items, especially motors.
business to the forefront
- I can see with some skype API work an option in the near future of purchasing the “complete small business telephone,” system on eBay (sold by eBay?) which would include the few items you need to turn an internet connection into a powerful PBX running on skype, and this would include the talk time (if any minutes are used outside of skype).
enhanced customer connections
- now skype can truly provide detailed notices to eBay/skype users on items they are selling, bidding on, or wishing for. Imagine receiving your eBay questions directly in skype, or even better have them forwarded on to your cell phone via SMS. Imagine receiving text messages when you’ve been outbidded, or even better when that Blue Moon beer sign you’ve been dreaming of is about to close bidding and you can be notified, bid, and win via text messaging.
eBay’s feedback has been released
- eBay’s feedback system has been freed by its capture and can now be welcomed and received by anyone, anywhere with skype. Now amazon.com can offer people the option of including their skype profile within their auction which could have eBay ratings, that could show reputation. I believe eBay will allow their skype/ebay users to carry these feedback ratings outside of eBay and let other commercial website buyers influence the rating as well. Similar to iKarma skype’s feedback profile can be used and enhanced throughout the internet.
The end of the telephone as we know
- Not that this is a direct result of the eBay purchase of skype, but it sure does accelerate it. I’m sure eBay would love to put up for bid phone minutes to be purchased for use on skype accounts. Imagine them putting up 10 million minute blocks , which wholesalers could bid up to the real market price and then redistribute. And eBay would probably put up standard minute usage (1000 minute blocks) for the everyday user to purchase as well. No more mark up, no more arbitrage, just real market prices for voice. Of course this is just a short term thing because in the long term voice will just be free. Skype users of course benefit the most when everyone is on skype (not sure how eBay or skype benefit at this point with no paid call out charges, probably enhanced data services) because then every call is free. I believe skype will capture a nice chunk of eBay’s 180 million users at first, and probably gradually add a significant portion of them over time.
I believe this purchase reflects a new era of the internet, a new time of connections, and a new stage of commerce. I Think there is an ENORMOUS opportunity for some smart entrepreneurs out there to make some money on this, and make some pretty cool stuff. I’m working starting now to be one of those smart guys.