EBay Inc. has agreed to buy the fast-growing Internet start-up Skype in a move to add free Web telephone calls to its online auctions and fuel growth, the companies confirmed on Monday.
We've been using Skype for a number of months, and the VoIP concept is incredible: Call people over the Internet for far lower rates - and on Skype itself, free - than a normal international call. It's allowed us to call friends and family in Israel and Canada (my cousins, Ser's sister) on a normal basis at 2+ cents a minute. I would get Vonage (another great company) for my regular phone if not for the lack of cheap, quality cable Internet services around here. The genius of this acquisition, however, is this: What is the primary idea that holds people back from buying or selling products online? While there are a number of answers, I would say the primary ones are communication with the seller or buyer. I was once screwed buying sneakers on E-Bay by a lady who kept promising to send them, then claimed she was in the hospital... etc. It's been a year, and I'm still waiting. With Skype, it will be that much easier to communicate with the person on the other end of the line, and possibly soon even see them:
Executives of the two companies justified the combination by saying that the power of so-called "click-to-call" services to convert shoppers into buyers represents a far more lucrative form of selling proposition than advertising can. Skype also plans to add video calling and other features to its software.Additions like this will essentially allow people to see and talk to the other person just as they would in a regular store. The comfort people receive, particularly older people, just from seeing and hearing someone on the line will make people that much more comfortable with buying products online - and allow people to determine price, shipping, and method of payment that much faster. I only question how E-Bay will ensure that those people using Skype don't then remove the product from E-Bay and negotiate their own price, without E-Bay getting its cut, but I'd hope people are honest even if there is nothing in place.
One of the reasons my friend and I sell our Cleveland Browns (50-yard line! ;) ) seats on StubHub as opposed to E-Bay, despite the much larger percentage they take, is because people are more prone to overpaying on StubHub. This is because the tickets are guaranteed, and StubHub is a trustworthy vendor as opposed to the thousands of individuals that nobody has ever met as it is on E-Bay. With Skype, this may change the dynamic a bit.
Technorati tags: Skype, E-Bay.