The Sony Playstation 3 is expected to launch officially in the U.S in six to 12 months.
The game console, which should retail between $400 and $700, will sell on the auction site to the highest unique bidder for less than one percent of the suggested retail price. Each of the 10 auctions will last one hour.
Site membership isn't required, though bidders can pay a one-time $100 fee that comes with privileges. Those privileges include free shipping and handling of up to $100 and the ability to bid multiple times simultaneously.
The site auctions off everything from Apple Computer video iPods, to Nissan 350Z cars, to Hawaiian wedding and vacation packages, said UniqueAuction's chief executive officer Arif Mirza. "If an Apple Video iPod sells for $500 retail, we put a ceiling on the asking bid at $5," he said. "Members bid between 1 cent and $5, whereas non-members must double their bids up to $10."
Launched on Sept. 20, 2005, UniqueAuction received more than 10,000 bids in its first hour, surpassing one million bids in the first three weeks. All bids are time stamped. If two bids are identical, the person to make the first highest unique bid SMQ-8211-SMQ- under the one percent ceiling -- wins.
Roger Kim, a database programmer who lives in Seattle, became a member after discovering the site in December while scouring Web sites for Microsoft's XBox 360 when they were nearly impossible to find. "The winning bid on one XBox I bought was $3.40, but it took about 60 bids at $1 each to win," Kim said. "You lock down your bid. Then in the last few seconds, you try and cancel out the other bids higher then yours to become the highest unique bid."
Strategy is important. The majority of bids occur in the last 10 seconds. Similar to playing an online video or board game, the auction site pits bidders against each other.
Kim, who on occasion will search eBay for "stuff to buy," has 16 wins to his credit on UniqueAuction. Mostly he sells back the items to the site for 80 percent of the value. He's kept several XBox 360s, one 24-inch television, one Apple video iPod and several gift certificates to Best Buy Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The Sony PlayStation 3 could be next.
Today, the site auctions only new items. That will change. UniqueAuction will allow individuals to auction new and used products themselves under the company's existing model. Mirza believes the new features will give eBay some "serious" competition.