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RealTime IT News

eBay Offers Up An API

Hoping to have its auction site "tightly woven" into the e-commerce operations of others, eBay launched an Application Program Interface (API) and a developers program that allows other companies to use eBay to drive their own businesses.

eBay said the initiative will first be rolled out to a select number of licensed eBay partners and developers.

Meanwhile, having nothing to do with the API, eBay stock was being hammered today after a Lehman Bros. analyst lowered her rating from "buy" to "neutral," citing a slowdown in online auctions. The stock was down almost $8 in mid-afternoon trading, to $35.50.

"Our new API has tremendous potential to revolutionize the way people do business on eBay and increase the amount of business transacted on the site," said Brian Swette, eBay's chief operating officer. "By openly providing the tools that developers need to create applications based on eBay technology, we believe eBay will eventually be tightly woven into many existing sites as well as future e-commerce ventures."

A new site, for instance, will be able to use the eBay commerce engine to power its business, eliminating time and money from the start-up process. For example, a site selling musical instruments through eBay utilizing the API could reduce the cost of its technical infrastructure while marketing to eBay's nearly 19 million registered users.

eBay said the API also will allow the company and its commercial partners to more easily and quickly expand services to new devices, such as wireless telephones and handheld computers.

"There are already dozens of companies and hundreds of applications that rely on our site," said Maynard Webb, president of eBay Technologies. "Our new interface will provide much needed standardization. Existing applications will run more reliably and more and more companies will be able to easily and seamlessly weave the eBay marketplace into their business models."

One company doing that already is GoTo Auctions, which said it is working closely with eBay on the API for its ChannelFusion program. Through ChannelFusion, GoTo Auctions integrates with independent existing e-commerce systems and enables these sites to sell on eBay.

Launched last August, ChannelFusion integrates into a client company's existing back-end inventory system, allowing the company to post items directly to auction sites. It also integrates with the client company's fulfillment system.