Redmond, Wash.’s Microsoft Corp.
and Chicago-based online auction and marketplace uBid Tuesday penned a broad
alliance to improve services to attract more customers to the MSN network.
The deal, for which financial terms were not disclosed, means that uBid, a majority-owned company of troubled incubator CMGI Inc.
will be the go-to provider on MSN Auctions Channel, slated to go live this month. One of the leading firms in the
online/marketplace sector with 3 million users, uBid features a rotating selection of more than 12,000 products, including
computers, jewelry and other collectibles.
The agreement also means that uBid will take on a handful of Microsoft’s much-talked about Web service offerings, the most important of which is the authentication service, Passport, from the .Net suite. uBid will also use .NET Alerts, a tool to give users updates on auctions they are actively bidding in. This is especially geared to mobile device lovers who would be apprised of auction progress via MSN Messenger or Windows Messenger.
But that’s all front-end stuff. On the back-end, uBid will also employ Microsoft’s .NET Enterprise Servers to run its Web site and
services. Basically, Microsoft will benefit from being able to offer MSN network users a slew of goods to buy from uBid while the
marketplace firm will likely see customer spikes from exposure by MSN.
Tim Takesue, acting CEO of uBid, explained the synergy of the two firms in light of the deal.
“Microsoft .NET technologies will enable our next generation of Web services, and through this agreement, MSN can now offer its
audience an exciting array of leading brand-name products, while enabling uBid to continue to improve our customers’ experience,”
While the benefits of the pact to both firms are clear, the news is also indicative of the strengthening of support of .Net by a top
auction proprietor; in addition to .net Passport and Alerts, uBid is using Visual Studio .NET and the .NET Framework to build its
Web services, including an application that will allow Windows XP users to manage their online auctions whenever and wherever from
Interestingly, uBid’s strong pledge of allegiance to .Net comes at a time when the entire Framework is being subjected to heavy scrutiny by privacy and security experts as doubts about the airtightness of Passport and other .Net features continue to swirl.
To be sure, the alliance is also a reminder of how Web services are being endorsed by firms to cut costs, and Tuesday’s announcement
fulfills at least one Jupiter Media Metrix prophecy from September:
“Despite the enormous potential of Web services to transform the landscape of the software industry, the technology will find its
early uses in the humdrum role of tying together an enterprise’s internal applications,” said David Schatsky, research director and
senior analyst, Jupiter Media Metrix.