RealTime IT News

Webswappers.com Spots Gap in Gift Market

[London, ENGLAND] The post-Christmas habit of re-gifting may be a thing of the past in Europe, according to online swapshop Webswappers.com.

Apparently, people are swapping everything from unwanted Pokémon cards to a full-sized World War Two bomber -- and no, this is an Allied bomber rather than a German Nazi memorabilia bomber which would probably be outlawed online.

Webswappers says that US $3 billion in unwanted gifts goes to waste every year in the U.K. alone, while billions more are squandered on items that people like but already possess.

"For every unwanted present we throw into the back of our wardrobe there is someone out there who wants it and there will be other people who have the things you hoped for but didn't get," claimed Jonathan Attwood, Webswappers' chief executive.

Among the "weird and wonderful" category of swaps, Webswappers lists a model of Big Ben. What's weird and wonderful about that? Well, it's life size -- just the sort of thing to attract attention in your neighborhood and keep the kids awake at night.

Alternatively, swappers can obtain that intensely desirable objet d'art -- the Ethiopian silver earwax scoop (ideal for ladies who lunch). Or there are 1000 solar eclipse sunglasses that are bound to come in useful sometime during the new millennium.

One user has even listed his 24-year-old girl friend ("half Italian, very pretty, slim, good at cooking") whom he wants to exchange for "baby monkey to tame as pet."

For all its levity, and despite being co-founded by wacky hi-tech Professor Nicholas Negroponte, Webswappers is a serious business -- not just an experiment. It claims to be Europe's first Web site dedicated to making the swapping of goods online easy to do. The most popular items for swapping are computer games consoles, mobile phones, laptop computers and DVDs.

Webswappers points out that there are also tax advantages to swapping in the U.K. where, for example, stamp duty is still payable on house sales -- but costs only 5 pounds sterling (US $7) if the homes are swapped.

It should also be mentioned that Webswappers is the company that's put the WAP in swap, making its site accessible from WAP phones at wap.webswappers.com.

So who will be the first two people to swap a World War Two bomber for a full sized replica of Big Ben over a WAP phone? We'll let you know if it happens.