eBay died cos it stopped being fun

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eBay died cos it stopped being fun

Postby Nick » Sat May 23, 2009 4:22 pm

Most often, people blame eBay’s decay on factors like the weakening economy, the rise of Amazon, as well as eBay’s own inefficient search functionality. But the real and simple reason is eBay is no longer fun.

Although it was always classified as an e-commerce destination, the quirkiness of the eBay marketplace was once a major source of entertainment on the Web. It was where people sought and bought everything from the first broken laser pointer to Beanie Babies to Bob Dylan’s boyhood home. While the catch—anything from an antique clock to a Gulfstream II—was rewarding for the buyer, it was generally the entertainment and excitement of the chase that brought a buyer to eBay in the first place.

When eBay launched its first U.S. advertising campaign in 2000, eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove stated, “We hope they [the ads] reflect the fun that people have when they come to our site.” According to USA Today, “the fun aspect of eBay seems to have struck a chord with consumers.” At that time, eBay was downright addictive and when you won an auction, it was thrilling. That delight kept people coming back for more, whether or not they actually prevailed with their bids.

In January 2004, almost 50 percent of the entire U.S. Internet population visited eBay each month. If people were bored at work, chances are they were surfing the pages of eBay and unearthing eccentric auction items they never even knew existed. By the time John Donahoe took the helm of eBay in Q1 2008, he opted to “aggressively change our product, our customer approach and our business model.” In a futile effort to compete with Amazon and Google, eBay leadership essentially stripped whatever remaining fun existed out of its marketplace. In December 2008, eBay’s visitors accounted for only 1.5 percent of total minutes spent online.

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