Loud and long-distance voices colored in the week that was.
Shout "it" louder, eBay
You just knew that eBay
It's not perfect. I can already picture unscrupulous bidders and sellers setting up side deals that would leave eBay out of its completed listing fees. In the current format, questions and answers go through eBay's interface, so there's always a virtual paper trail. One would hope that eBay members value their active status enough to play by the rules, but you never know how one will react to being Skyped two days before an auction ends with a great offer if the seller ends the auction prematurely.
Thankfully, eBay is no dummy. It's being selective as to where it tests the service, and it will always have the auction insertion fees no matter what is eventually communicated between the Skype-enabled negotiators. The key here is that eBay is embracing a recently acquired technology and applying it to its bread-and-butter business, in the same way it ditched its online payment service the moment it acquired PayPal and was able to incorporate it into its own auctioneering DNA.
The company has picked some pretty eclectic categories, including NBA trading cards and Lost in Space collectibles, to launch the service come Monday, but I don't see this as either a slam dunk or a "Danger, Will Robinson" moment here. It's just an evolutionary step, just as the company is also now gearing up to allow users to enter bids by mobile phone.
I got an email from someone proposing that eBay will eventually use Skype to offer the excitement of live voice auctions, just as you'd get in the real world. It's a tantalizing notion, though it wouldn't be very attractive for a seller to limit the potential reach of an audience to Skype-enabled users. Maybe that will be a niche offering down the road, but I see eBay growing more flexible in terms of ways that bidders can participate in auctions in the future. Skype is just one more way to achieve that goal, by widening eBay's already sizable moat.
No hooray for Blu-ray
It's time to tap the snooze button again if you were waiting to get your hands on a Blu-ray DVD player. The format, promising in that Blu-ray discs will have 50 gigs of storage capacity, continues to be delayed. Planned springtime releases of the first batch of players and the Sony
Everyone from movie studios to computer makers have taken sides in the battle between Blu-ray and HD-DVD. Folks love to compare this to the VHS-vs.-Betamax battle, but there's always the possibility that both high-capacity formats will succeed. After all, we have three different video game consoles on the market!
Besides, only die-hard technophiles will be jumping on the first batch of HD-DVD and Blu-ray players, since they will be expensive and possibly buggy. Sony, meanwhile, has lined up some meaty backers, including Dell
Until next week, I remain,
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.