Wednesday, April 1, 2009

eBay Is Really a Huge PaaS Provider

While Amazon,, Google & others seem to be getting the "cloud" attention lately, it seems that eBay is doing a brilliant platform move - very much akin to what is already doing.

eBay has announced its Selling Manager Applications Beta, which is really a number of hosted services, each complete with its own API.
eBay Selling Manager Applications allows developers to help professional sellers manage their online businesses within their trusted My eBay experience. Professional sellers are like any small business, and quality selling management tools embedded into the Selling Manager experience will make them more efficient and profitable. Sellers will be able to find and easily subscribe to applications through an applications directory.
Some of the APIs include
- Shopping
- Merchandising
- Feedback
- Client Alerts
- Platform Notifications
- Large Merchandise
- Research

eBay's roadmap page and current .PDF. eBay is also implementing these APIs using the gadgets specification as defined within OpenSocial.

What appeals to me here is that, unlike "raw" hosted compute services (a la AWS), and unlike raw platform tools (a la Google App Engine), eBay has chosen to host core services for use (and re-use via mashups) by others. eBay is putting its core IP on the web for others to use.

Not convinced at the potential? Consider the following thought experiment: What if eBay provides a highly-reliable, generalized trading application that matches Puts and Calls? What if a public company were to allow the engine to match and record trades of its shares using that engine? Could it eventually usurp the NASDAQ engine?

Now think even a bit more differently -- rather than a service that matched simple pricing (for shares or for simple commodities), what about a service that matched trades for more complex variables? For example, different grades and granular chemical compositions of crude oil, complete with amounts and delivery dates? Jobs and job seekers? Singles looking for dates?

eBay clearly has the opportunity to be more than an online e-commerce site. It could be the "Exchange Platform" in the sky. Very cool possibilities, well beyond the simple way we're thinking of cloud services today.

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