IBM Corp. and eBay Inc. announced an agreement Thursday for IBM to expand its sales of software, servers and PCs on the eBay auction site. IBM will link directly to eBay on the IBM.com homepage, and the two companies will explore a joint marketing campaign for print and television.
EBay will implement IBM's WebSphere Web infrastructure software for its auction site as part of a broader upgrade effort. With 34 million subscribers, the Web site is one of the most frequently visited areas of the Internet, and eBay expects the site's popularity to grow. WebSphere is 'middleware', software designed to run on top of an operating system but itself works as a platform for running other applications like e-commerce software.
Another element of the deal calls for IBM to expand its shop in eBay Stores, a section of the site eBay launched in June as a more traditional online sales venue. Most of the sellers in eBay Stores are small businesses with relatively long-term ties to eBay; IBM is an exception.
Compared to more experienced eBay traders with thousands of sales under their belts, IBM's sales on eBay look anemic. About 500 customers have left feedback for IBM on the eBay site. The majority of the comments are positive. Only three bids have been cast for 59 auctions of ThinkPad and NetVista computers, flat-panel monitors, printers, digital cameras and hard drives currently listed in IBM's eBay store.
Many bidders flock to eBay for bargain-basement prices but IBM's price listings aren't significantly different from what might be expected in a retail store or on its own Web site.