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.

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