eBay Watch: China, Skype, Paypal and New Holiday Features

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Includes: EBAY, TOMOY, VG
by: OnlyEBAY

A number of key developments to note for eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) watchers:

EBAY China Sold?

There are various reports this morning that EBAY Eachnet (EBAY China) and Tom Online (NASDAQ:TOMO) have already signed a deal. Speculation surfaced in late September about EBAY selling its China operations but this time sources claim an announcement is imminent. That said, EBAY Eachnet has apparently denied the rumor. More news as it develops...

EBAY Launches "IT Finder"

The heavy shopping holiday season is now upon us and EBAY is positioning itself to capture as much of the online shopping spend as possible. Just this week, EBAY has launched the 'it finder', an online tool to help online shoppers with gift ideas. In a similar bet, PayPal has also launched a holiday shopping with PayPal section to help users identify places to spend their stored balances. Its great to see these initiatives up and running early so they are ready for the holiday rush.

EBAY Broadens Skype Integration

Two weeks ago I mentioned some anecdotal evidence that Skype adoption within the EBAY marketplace was poor. Even within the few categories that allow Skype-me functionality, the proportion of listings taking advantage of the offering is low. That said, November 1st EBAY announced it is broadening the number of categories that allow sellers to integrate Skype. EBAY VP Don Albert states that "buyers and sellers alike have really enjoyed the opportunity to resolve questions quickly and easily, while also improving trust in the process." Slowly but surely, in typical EBAY style, Skype is being rolled out.

Skype's Strategy

Just as Skype posts a new record in concurrent online users of 7.8 million, Sten Tamkivi, Skype’s 28-year-old head of operations, spends hour an hour discussing the company's strategy and vision for the future on this blog.

The core of that strategy, according to Sten, is Skype ’s intention to increasingly derive revenue from non-telephony services. "We view SkypeOut and SMS to be the kind of telephony-related revenues that we see fading away in the long run, even though they have a very healthy growth rate today. What we are looking into are new things like PayPerLead advertising, which we're doing together with Google and Yahoo, SendMoney, etc."

Skype Has Finished Vonage

As I predicted back in August, Skype is winning the VOIP battle against Vonage (NYSE:VG). As Skype Journal points out, Vonage's earnings release yesterday show that new subscribers are down, churn is up, ARPU is down, and subscriber acquisition costs are up. Not exactly the best of news when your stock is trading near a historical low.

Lycos Europe and HP Become PayPal Partners

In this low profile press release that was not picked up by main newswires, Lycos announced earlier this month that it has integrated PayPal payment solutions into its medium and large LYCOS eShops. Its great to see the PayPal momentum is global. Meanwhile AP reported October 26th that Hewlett-Packard has begun using PayPal as a payment option in its Home & Home Office Store. Congrats PayPal on winning another key account! We are another step down the path to making PayPal ubiquitous on the net.

Alibaba Follows EBAY's Lead

Reuters reports that China's Alibaba.com has agreed to buy a strategic stake in a local classifieds listing site to cash in on the world's second-largest Internet market. "Alibaba did not disclose the financial terms of the investment in Koubei.com, which it described in a statement as one of China's largest classified listing and community Web sites with more than 2 million registered users."

Full disclosure: long eBay (EBAY) at time of writing.