eBay Says Holiday Outlook for Mobile Commerce Very Jolly

This holiday season could be one of the biggest mobile commerce events yet, with more people turning to their smartphones or tablets to buy gifts this year than ever before.

EBay has already seen a ton of traffic from mobile phone usage, and is expecting even more this holiday season.

During the company’s third-quarter conference call today, eBay said its mobile applications have been downloaded more than 50 million times and that three purchases are being made every second.

“I think you’ll see a mobile commerce Christmas, which is on the way to a completely blended commerce world,” said eBay’s CEO John Donahoe in an interview following the call. “You’ll see more change in the next three years than you’ve seen in the past 15.”

[More details on the company's Q3 results here.]

The mobile shopping trend is being driven in part by adoption.

Smartphones continue to pour into the mainstream, and last Christmas, the dominant tablet, the iPad, was only eight months old. This year, millions more consumers will be using them to shop while sitting on the couch in front of the TV.

Last quarter, eBay started airing TV commercials — its first in the past couple of years — to promote its mobile applications.

Donahoe said the amount of tablet usage that’s happening in front of the TV is not trivial. “It gets to your multi-screen world. The laptop, the smartphone, the tablet or your TV, or even the store. Consumers are accessing all of those as they shop.”

Almost every quarter this year, eBay has upped its estimates for how well its mobile businesses will do.

Last year, eBay reported $2 million in commerce and expected to double that this year. PayPal’s mobile revenues totaled $700 million in 2010 and were intially expected to triple. Now, eBay is on pace to hit $5 billion in mobile commerce merchandise volume this year, and PayPal mobile is expected to exceed $3.5 billion.

Additionally, PayPal will conduct its first mobile payments pilot with a retailer by the end of the year, and any revenue from that is not being taken into account in terms of the company’s long-term projections.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work