The online auction house on Wednesday said it will open its own free application store in a few months for power auctioneers and Web retailers who want to manage their online business at My eBay. EBay also announced a beta program for third-party developers, called the eBay Selling Manager Application.
Similar in design to Apple's App Store for iPhone and Salesforce.com's AppExchange, corporate and independent developers will be able to bask in the revenue share at an 80/20 split with eBay. The development platform is based around Google's Open Gadgets and Open Social Standards, which should make it easy to modify applications and prep them in time for the app store when it opens this summer.
The beta is a result of the success of the pilot launched in June 2008 at the eBay Developers Conference.
Sellers will be able to purchase or subscribe to trusted developer tools including CRM software, accounting tools, and other business metrics widgets. As part of the Selling Manager Application, sellers will be able to relist multiple sold and unsold listings at once; send feedback to multiple buyers; and file, track, and manage multiple unpaid items and final value fee requests.
EBay's Selling Manager tool currently has 270,000 active business subscribers in the United States. Shipping company UPS said it's the first transportation provider to sign up for the eBay Selling Manager Application beta. The company said its contribution will eliminate rekeying information between eBay and UPS WorldShip.
The eBay Developers Program, which started in November 2000, has more than 87,000 members who have created over 13,500 live applications. But the company said it wanted to adopt a broader strategy like Apple's App Store to allow for more participation and to bolster its auction and Web retail businesses.
"Part of what we're trying to do is address the medium- and small-business sellers," said Kumar Kandaswamy, head of eBay developer program and platform product. "Some of these tools are available but are hard to find. Based on a seller's needs, we can give third-party apps more discoverability."
EBay is just the latest company to open its doors to developers with the dream of marketing their tools and making money. In addition to Apple and Salesforce.com, Google's Android Market and BlackBerry's upcoming App World have drawn individual and corporate development projects. Even Microsoft is readying its App Store competitor.
EBay is also hoping to avoid allowing overpriced novelty applications that do very little, as is sometimes the case with Apple and Google. Kandaswamy said eBay will charge $75 for a vetting process that puts the application under close scrutiny to make sure it adds value to eBay users.
Mark Carges, eBay's senior VP of platform and CTO, is scheduled to reveal more details about the app store during his keynote Wednesday at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.
InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on rich Internet applications. Download the report here (registration required).