It’s no secret that eBay’s mobile apps are growing by leaps and bounds. As of July, eBay had seen 11 million downloads of its primary iPhone app, which allows users to browse, bid and buy from eBay auctions. As of this week, the company has seen 13 million downloads of its primary iPhone app, and Steve Yankovich, eBay’s VP of mobile and platform; says he expects that number to climb to 14 million by November.
In a conversation with Yankovich, he told me that eBay will soon consolidate its buying and selling iPhone apps. Currently, eBay has a separate iPhone app for sellers, that allows users to quickly take photos of items and post them on eBay. This is all planning to take place ahead of the holiday shopping season, which for eBay (and most online retailers) is a extremely lucrative and trafficked time period. And Yankovitch says the company will be releasing a dedicated eBay Motors app, which he expects to be very popular with consumers based on the traffic the site sees.
Yankovich also said that RedLaser, the barcode scanning iPhone app that eBay acquired from Occipital in June, will soon be extended to Android phones. eBay has seen considerable success with RedLaser, adding 3 additional million downloads of the app since June. Last week, eBay announced that it would be populating the iPhone app with product results with eBay Marketplaces and Half.com listings, and also adding QR codes to the app.
While QR Codes aren’t as widely adopted as the standard bar code, says Yankovich, he believes the technology will one day be used much more frequently by consumers. One advantage of QR codes he explains, is that any store or brand can create their own unique code with varying information. And he wants eBay’s app to be the catalyst for making QR codes a more mainstream technology.
Regardless, barcode scanning is big. Amazon recently added barcode scanning to its main iPhone app. And eBay will soon be incorporating RedLaser’s technology into its main iPhone app as well, says Yankovich.
Whether through a QR Code or a barcode, online retailers are able to give consumers who are shopping in brick and mortar stores the ability to find the item online, at perhaps a more discounted price. It’s very much a traffic play, and way to take product interest offline back online. Moreover, QR Codes, can unlock rich, contextual information to products, including reviews, or even coupons for a particular product.
And as the holiday shopping season comes upon us, eBay is certainly ready to capitalize on the possible cash-cow that mobile could bring. One question is whether the number of downloads of its app can actually translate into sales. But currently, eBay is set on pace to reach a whopping $1.5 billion worth of goods sold via its mobile apps in 2010.
Over the past year, eBay has launched iPad, Android and Windows 7 apps for its auction business, a new Half.com app, and a Fashion-focused app. And PayPal’s mobile offerings should also help contribute to eBay’s potential holiday success, considering the million-plus downloads its iPhone app has seen.