BOSTON (05/23/2000) - EBay Inc. launched its "eBay Anywhere" service yesterday on the nationwide network of Kansas City-based Sprint PCS Group. EBay said it was the first step in making its popular Web auction service available from any mobile device. The move follows in the footsteps of Seattle-based online retailer Amazon.com Inc., which earlier this year started its mobile "Amazon Anywhere" service. San Jose-based eBay said Sprint PCS customers will be able to use wireless phones to browse, search, watch, bid, review and confirm bids on more than four million items in 4,300 categories on its auction site.
In a related development, GTE Wireless Service in New York, and AT&T Wireless in Seattle said they will offer a retailer location service developed by Vicinity Corp. in Palo Alto, California. Consumers accessing the Vicinity service from cellular telephone Web browsers can search for the location of nearby retailers in a wide range of categories such as food, clothing, shoes or banking. The Vicinity MapBlast tool will then provide a consumer with driving directions from his current location.
Tim Scannell, an analyst at Mobile Insights Inc. in Quincy, Massachusetts, said he viewed these offerings as "an experiment (by the carriers) to find a niche for their WAP phones." Considering the small size of the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) screen, Scannell said most people won't want to use their WAP phones for general Web browsing, but could be lured by the relatively simple navigation on eBay or store-finder services.
The carriers, Scannell added, will also embrace any digital service "which will help eat up (air time) minutes, because it will increase their revenues."