eBay Inc. on Monday scrapped fees charged to software developers who build sites and applications in an effort to funnel buyers and sellers its way.
Membership to the eBay Developers Program is now free, effective Monday. The same goes for eBays new Web Services/unified schema API calls, announced in February, as well as standard application certifications. The new pricing doesnt apply to API calls made using eBays legacy schema.
As of Jan. 1, eBay will require the use of the unified schema to pass its standard application certification. As of June 1, calls made on the legacy schema will stop working.
Greg Isaacs, director of the eBay Developers Program, wrote in an announcement that the move was, first, a thank-you for work done up until now, and, second, a push to get more innovation done.
“…We want to thank you for your contributions to the eBay marketplace, because we know that without our developer community, eBay wouldnt be where we are today,” Isaacs said.
“Second, we want to remove barriers to innovation on the platform,” he continued. “Since the first API was released in 2000, third-party developers have led the charge in developing the most cutting-edge and exciting applications and services for the eBay community.”
Loss of the fees wont be a big hit to the bottom-line for the online auctioneer. Isaacs told the New York Times that developer fees ranged from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands—not so much for a company that expects revenues of $4 billion this year.
Developer fees are also a trifle when compared with the need to stay competitive, with Yahoo, Google and Microsoft all vying for attention with online services offerings.
Microsoft, for example, earlier this month launched a pair of “Live” portals offering application services, called Windows Live and Office Live, aimed at small businesses and consumers.
The Live offerings are a departure from Microsofts historical way of offering services, in which it typically has licensed applications to computer manufacturers or sold them to consumers on disks.
Analysts at the time suggested that Microsofts new direction is a response to arguably its biggest immediate challenger of the moment: search giant Google.
Google has spent the last few years amassing its own extensive lineup of online services such as instant messaging and e-mail.
Google also plans an online retail community to rival that of eBay.
The company has filed a patent on something its calling Google Automat, a technology that classified ad strategists describe as a way for individuals or small advertisers to more quickly buy advertising.
Rumors of an eBay killer to come from Google date back to at least June, when Scot Wingo, CEO of Web commerce consultant ChannelAdvisor, said Google had asked some of his clients to use an online payment system known as Google Wallet.
Even more to the eBay-killing point, screen shots of Google Base popped up last month.
The rumored auction service was described in the screenshots as a database consisting of “your content,” to which it would be free to contribute.
Items in the database included a party invite or a “listing of your used car for sale.”
The screenshots also mentioned a tie-in to Googles comparison shopping site Froogle, as well as to Google Local, the combination Google mapping and localized search results.