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3/3/2006
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eBay Developers Create Huge Software-As-A-Service Community

Documentation and code samples from eBay have made it easy for companies to create applications like one about to be launched, which will help sellers determine the correct day, time, and price to sell their products on the auction site.

Mpire Corp. will launch in March a mobile search application to help sellers determine the correct day, time and price to sell their products on eBay Inc.

With a similar tool introduced in January from Mpire, the eBay community gained Mpulse, a resource to monitor up-to-the-minute listing trends for items from Apple Computer Inc. iPods to Microsoft Corp. Xboxes. About 10,000 users tap into the service. Now the provider of Web-based services will offer the application on mobile devices.

eBay has created the largest software as a service (SaaS) community by providing developers tools. The application programming interface (API) allows Mpire to send information to communicate with eBay and Paypal platforms.

As of December 2005, for example, the eBay Developers Program had more than 25,000 members who created 1,900 live applications. Approximately 47 percent of eBay.com listings are through eBay Web Services. Nearly half are from third-party developer tools created by companies, such as Mpire, according to Greg Isaacs, eBay Developers Program director. During the fourth quarter in 2005, the eBay Platform handled more than 8 billion Web service requests, up from less than 1 billion for the entire year of 2002. The number of eBay Web Services transactions through APIs increased 84 percent annually, too. "You'd be hard pressed to find another company that serves-up that many API calls," Isaacs said.

Documentation and code samples have made it easy for companies like Mpire to create SaaS application. "When we make mistakes it turns into a bug for users, so the more documentation to help us create these applications the better," said Dave Cotter, Mpire president and chief executive office.

Cotter said eBay also offers a testing environment that allows developers to run applications on a "mirrored eBay platform" to prevent potential bugs from interfering with buyers and bids.

Mpire has worked with eBay and the developers program for more than two years, but analytics application launched January. More than 10,000 are signed up to use it.

Cotter ran BEA Systems Inc.'s "developers marketing group" prior to founding Mpire in 2004. "Type in iPod and we will tell you the average selling price, best day to sell, and keywords to use to attract buyers," he said. "Then we have a set of tools that allows them to post items to eBay, and manage finances and customer contacts."

eBay also offer developers technical support with online message boards and live chat. "Not only are we answering questions, but other developers answer questions, too," Isaacs said.

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