RealTime IT News

EBay Brings Kijiji Stateside

Ebay's Craigslist clone is open for business in the United States. The site was launched in 220 cities and 50 states on June 29th.

Named Kijiji.com after the Swahili word for "village," the free, local, community-based classifieds site has operated since its 2005 founding in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, China, Japan, Taiwan, Austria, Switzerland, and India.

Call the time overseas Kijiji's study abroad experience, eBay spokesperson Hani Durzy told internetnews.com.

"We learned a lot abroad and we're ready to apply these learnings to the U.S. market," Durzy added. He said the classifieds site has done particularly well over the past two years in Canada, Germany, France and Taiwan. For example, it's the most popular site of its kind in Paris, Durzy noted.

But in the US, Kijiji's primary competitor will be Craigslist. That's no small challenge. Though Craigslist's sparse, static design contrasts with the colorful start-ups launched in the past few years, it's also the proud owner of a loyal and dependent user-base.

In fact, some credit Craigslist's free listings for carving into the bread-and-butter classified revenues of the newspaper industry.

"Free isn't exactly a good business model for newspapers," Jim Townsend, the principal and editorial irector of consulting firm Classified Intelligence, told internetnews.com. "[Newspapers] have been struggling for quite a while now against a model that would give away what they would charge for," Townsend said.

EBay spokesperson Durzy admitted that Kijiji faces stiff competition in Craigslist. In fact, Craigslist's sound business model and loyal user-base are what led eBay to take a 25 percent share in the online classifieds property in 2004.

Still, Durzy said it's eBay's opinion that there's room for more in the US online classifieds advertising market. Specifically, Kijiji will target small and midsize communities eBay finds under-served by Craigslist. Durzy also said users, particularly sellers, should find Kijiji easier to use than it's primary competitor.

EBay could benefit from introducing Kijiji to the US even if the new site doesn't win over any of Craigslist's market share. Competition should inspire innovation for both parties in the online classifieds space and eBay owns a stake in both.

"Certainly we've never shied away from competition," Durzy said.

Durzy said eBay has no plans to sell its stake in Craigslist.