Early this morning Reuters released a story about a possible MySpace & eBay partnership
. The article said that plans were in the works to allow MySpace users to post items for sale on their MySpace pages, items that would also show up on eBay.com. Neither company's officials were available for comment.
Can you say "Can of Worms?" (before you answer, maybe you might want to buy some eBay stock. this is the kind of thing that investors will see as nothing short of the second coming)
In theory, it sounds like a great idea. Get a younger (18-25 and even younger - ie. too young to enter into binding contracts) demographic involved with eBay, get eBay back in the fad-light again, and try to salvage something from all the traffic that is being lost to MySpace.
However...maybe I'm just cynical, but I see major issues with this possible deal. The success of any such deal may depend largely on who is responsible for the code. It's common knowledge that eBay "engineers" cumulatively fail badly when it comes to programming things that work properly (see new Markdown Manager). It has taken two years (or more) for eBay to get TL2 to the point it is working halfway decently, how long will it take to make it so a MySpace user interface can function appropriately?
Aside from possible technical glitches galore....in my mind there is a huge question of liability in the long run. A partnership such as this could put eBay in a position for more frequent and larger lawsuits. Fraud on eBay is rampant, despite whatever Bill Cobb vomits from his mouth in press conferences and speeches. MySpace is as bad or worse. (neither site is all bad, I'm not saying that). Add the current problems with fraud on eBay to MySpace problems and they could be looking at a major mess.
My prediction is that if this deal takes place, it will be received with a standing ovation from the financial community and little more than a grunt from the MySpace demographic. This seems like one more instance (like EE) where eBay is trying to be hip, and trying to accomplish that by duplicating services that are already offered - while putting themselves at risk. Hopefully the proposed "partnership" is just that, and won't require eBay to shell out a billion dollars for the privilege.
Finally, what message does this send to online predators that frequent sites like MySpace? Now they will be able to see a picture of the seller (and even possibly the seller's bottom...or more) and have access to all sorts of personal information about the seller that is really of no consequence to a retail transaction. I see a major loophole on the horizon for child predators too. "Officer, I was just picking up my latest eBay purchase...a Hello Kitty handbag with matching scrunchie!"