eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) kicks off its developer conference today in San Francisco, where more than 4,000 developers and merchants will receive a preview of X.commerce, the company’s new technology platform aimed at developers.
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The new platform will enable developers to use the tools to build applications for retailers looking to strengthen their presence on social networks, online, and on mobile phones.
Also presenting on stage will be some of eBay’s new partners, including Omniture, Adobe’s (NASDAQ:ADBE) marketing and advertising unit, and Kate Mitic, the director of platform and mobile marketing at Facebook. Mitic, who recently joined eBay’s board of directors, is expected to announce a partnership between Facebook and the e-commerce site.
While eBay and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) have been considered two of the most dominant e-commerce companies for the past decade, eBay seems to be headed in an entirely different direction as it moves forward. While the X.commerce division will be drawing from many of eBay’s existing technologies, including PayPal, it will also be integrating such acquisitions as Milo, which has created an online database of offline inventory in physical stores, and Red Laser, which is a barcode scanning technology.
eBay is looking to partner more with physical retailers in order to generate more sales online, as well as drive foot traffic to their stores. The move contrasts sharply with Amazon’s recent drive to increase online spending, with its focus on the digital distribution of content such as books, video, and music. Amazon has also been placing bets on hardware, like its upcoming Kindle Fire, which it hopes will rival Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad.
eBay’s new X.commerce group joints three other major groups, including the eBay marketplace, PayPal, and GSI, which it acquired earlier this year. It is eBay’s first major service aimed at developers, rather than consumers, who will in turn focus on their relationship with merchants.
For example, its new Red Laser technology will allow merchants to create an application that will in turn allow the consumer to scan a barcode in the store to find out if an item is in stock. The consumer will then have the option of buying that item using PayPal directly on the phone, without ever leaving the application.
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However, eBay isn’t solely focusing on developers. The most consumer-facing element to be unveiled at the conference is what eBay is calling PayPal Access, which will enable online shoppers to log into a Web site to buy something using their PayPal account rather than creating a brand new account for that site. Of course, online merchants will have to adopt the service.