eBay drops API fees

‘FreeBay’ reaches out to developers across the world.

One of the main reasons I never tried the eBay affiliate program was the fees required to use the eBay API. It doesn’t make sense, because developers are just sending more visitors to the site — thus increasing eBay’s profits. If anything, eBay should pay developers to use their API, assuming it’s profitable (which I’m sure it is).

Members will now be able to use eBay’s application programming interface (API), the set of protocols and tools that people can create applications with, for free. The San Jose, California-based auction giant will waive the developers’ program membership as well as certification fees.

As developers build applications that help users buy and sell on eBay, they can charge for applications which drive sales and traffic to eBay. It’s win-win.

“Twenty-two percent of all listings come from third party-developers,” said Greg Isaacs, director of eBay’s developers program. “They’re continuing to add a lot of value. We wanted to remove any obstacles [that hindered their ability to innovate].”

As an example of a successful affiliate program, Amazon.com offers a free API with over 80,000 registered developers. eBay reportedly has 21,000 members who have produced more than 1,600 applications.

“By waiving all fees, the company is also hoping to reach out to developers in countries such as China and India, said Mr. Isaacs.”

Hungry for Developers

eBay’s latest acquisition, Skype, also has a growing developers community. The VoIP company’s CEO, Niklas Zennström, recently told Red Herring that he expects the community to play a greater role going forward in creating applications that could help the company expand its reach. However, there still isn’t any talk of integrating its community into the thriving eBay developers program.

“Today, [the Skype and eBay developer communities] function separately,” said Mr. Isaacs. “We have no plans to combine them, but we talk about how we can help each other. But you’re seeing developers already doing the integration between eBay and Skype.”

He pointed out programs like those produced my Mpire.com, which has created tools featuring Skype for eBay users.

eBay also said on Monday that it was inviting entries for the eBay Developer Challenge 2006, its first-ever contest for developers, as it sought to attract new and innovative applications for its platform.

I think this is a good move on eBay’s part. Many developer initiatives have proven to be successful; and the demand for developers continues to increase at a faster pace than the number of skilled developers available. Should anyone want to study Computer Science, but is scared by the prospect of not knowing what to do, just look at the plethora of options available on the Internet. Google, Amazon, eBay, and Microsoft want you.

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