eBay's Half.com in Need of a Makeover

| About: eBay Inc. (EBAY)
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Half.com has lost its way (or maybe it just never had it). The site looks boring, outdated, and lacks features that would otherwise give this media marketplace a fighting chance.

For starters, what's with the brand image and logo? I don't mind being reminded that half.com is an eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) company but having 'by eBay' feature so prominently in the logo and having no less than 3 eBay logos and several dozen eBay links on the half.com homepage is a bit much. And to top it off, visitors to half.com are redirected to half.ebay.com. Has this property just become a traffic generator for the eBay marketplace? Is it ever meant to develop as an independent brand and marketplace?

The announcement that half.com items will start appearing on eBay Express was nice. Just as nice was the announcement that Alibris merchants will have their listings appear in half.com. But that said, instead of trying to maximise half.com sales on other platforms or bringing additional inventory from partners, eBay should first help the on-half.com sales and merchants. Otherwise it won't matter how many or where listings are showing up because buyers will continue to go elsewhere.

One more thing, and this is particularly ridiculous, is half.com's refusal to integrate PayPal as a payment option. They even state in their help section "at this time we have no definite plans to incorporate PayPal into the Half.com site." Is eBay this hypocritical to extol the virtues of PayPal and then refuse to integrate it in a property they have owned since 2000? Are they implying that you need to have a large critical mass before integrating PayPal makes sense? Please, even if just for image sake, integrate PayPal.

Half.com still has potential as a fixed-price person-to-person marketplace focused on media. But in order to grow, eBay have to give the site more independence, more breathing room, and a new look.