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November 04, 2005

A glimpse at the future eBay/Skype integration?

Yesterday in her talk at Morgan Stanley, Meg did a Q+A session and talked about how they are testing Skype as a communication method on Marktplaats.nl.

Two readers uncovered some examples that are a good view into where eBay may take Skype integration on the other non-Norwegian properties.

1. Here's a listing (thanks Robin!) that shows "Skype me" as the phone number.

2. Here's the help page (Thanks Scott!) that talks about the Skype integration. Ok, yes it's in Norwegian, but you can get the feel for it - it's like a listing option just like "yes I take PayPal".

2A.  First they talk about how to turn it on in the listing form via a checkbox->

350x215_skype_screen1_1

2B. Next they show how the "Skype me" box shows up in the contact information for the seller and you can use the little skype me box in your listing as shown in Robin's sample posting.

350x174_skype_screen2

There doesn't appear to be any fee for using Skype on marketplaats.nl.

Ok, so you can see how it "works", but how does eBay make money?  Interestingly yesterday at the Morgan conference Meg admitted that voip trends to free (skypein/out as well as computer/computer) very rapidly.  So how do they make money?

1. Perhaps skype-enabling a listing costs an extra $X almost like a bold listing or featured.

2. Or, they have the flexibility to charge on a pay-per-call method.  This is close to the pay per click advertising that has lit Google on fire, but if you don't have a website, etc. and are selling a tractor, you maybe willing to pay per call.

3. They could do some combo of 1/2 e.g. Pay $2 for skype in a listing and get 3 calls free, $.50 per additional call.

4. If the calls do not trend towards free, they could skype-enable listings for free to drive skype usage which rings the register for Skype and also remember Paypal rings up a transaction because it is the primary method for getting $ into skype  Although since they own both companies they don't make any money there.

So in conclusion, this example sheds a little light into where things could go with Skype/eBay in the future.  It remains to be seen if sellers will be interested or not.  The high volume sellers I talk to are not, but the Motors, real estate and others that are in phone driven transaction industries I do believe will pay.

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