Getting long; Was Re: eBay being sued over patent infringement

From: Doc Shipley <>
Date: Thu Apr 24 00:33:00 2003

On Wednesday, April 23, 2003, at 11:05 PM, Mail List wrote:
> > the only reason the other online auction services aren't getting
> action is that they suck.
> They definitely do. But the reason they suck is that the others don't
> seem to have much
> variety or volume of interesting items for sale.

   Yahoo Auctions is the only other one I've really spent time on
lately, and at least as far as Yahoo goes, I submit that you have put
the cart before the horse. In my view, the reason they don't seem to
have much variety or volume of interesting items for sale is that they
suck. Their search engine is very poor, navigation of the categories
is a nightmare, and they host far too much extraneous advertising.

> > eBay is the de facto Blue Book for used/surplus goods
> Yet on this very same mailing list, many have said eBay prices are
> "artificially" inflated,

   That's a patently ridiculous statement, the fact that it is made
often notwithstanding. I _will_ grant that items often sell for far
more than I would pay. But Bennett, the *definition* of market value
is the price that the available buyer is willing to pay.
   eBay prices may be inflated, from a professional dealer's or an
experienced hobbyist's perspective. For auction prices to be
*artificially* inflated, as a general condition, is simply impossible,
unless you assume consistent, fraudulent price-fixing.

> etc. and that Michael's book is the more accurate guide to true market
> value. It really
> does still end up boiling down to each individuals perspective as eBay
> buyer's, eBay
> seller's, and hobbyist's goals vary quite widely.

   Well, yeah. As I said, I do use other pricing tools. I match my
pricing to my market, and my market to the price I need. For instance,
I have a stack of HP C160 workstations I'd like to sell. I won't put
them on eBay, because the shipping will exceed the probable selling
price, the size of the machine make them a mother to crate, and I'd get
a barrage of "I'll buy it if you'll just send me X part" requests.
I'll sell them locally, on the newsgroup, for a little less than I'd
get on eBay. On those, convenience is the bottom line, not the dollar
   Further, who the prospective buyer is makes a difference. J Random
Idjit will pay eBay prices. Hobbyists I've traded with or expect to
trade with get deep discounts from market wholesale. The resellers I
deal with pay wholesale, or more often trade at wholesale.
   If I have to get market, I offer it to friends and lists at near eBay
prices, explaining the cash crunch, then eBay it. That's the case with
the Laserbus and XMI gear I'm about to put on the market.

   Some buyers will pay 3x or 4x retail, if I'll sell to them at all. I
have a very long memory, and my temper takes precedence over my wallet
every time.

> I heard that with them being the Goliath that they are, they bought
> out and absorbed
> most of their potentially serious competitors.

   Not illegal, or even unethical, as long as it's done within SEC regs,
and other federal guidelines.

> > other than doing what they do VERY well, and marketing it well
> Wouldn't that definition fit Microsoft as well. ( Being honest, and
> not just bashing
> Microsoft because it's the popular thing to do ). Yet Microsoft was
> brought up on
> anti-trust charges.

   Now that's just a huge red herring,and doesn't fit at all. Honestly?
  I use MS products maybe once a month. Nothing to do with fashion - I
just prefer a secure and stable computing platform. MS *doesn't* do
their job well, although they market it well.
   As far as anti-trust issues are concerned, Microsoft was not charged
with having too large a share of the market. MS was charged with
exerting undue influence - active coercion - on their customers, using
that market share as leverage.
   eBay has never even been accused of coercing their customers to do
anything, and I flatly fail to see that as being even possible. To
claim that their paying customers, the eBay sellers, have no other
venue is laughable.

> > The fact that an entity may be the only viable player on a given
> > doesn't "warrant anti-trust action."
> If they were the only player that wanted to play, that would surely be
> so. But if almost
> no competition can make a dent in the market against such a Goliath,
> it seemed to
> me that was what the "anti-trust" laws were all about. But, IANAL, so
> I might be way
> off base in my thoughts on the matter.

   The anti-trust laws are about using market share, and absence of
viable competitors, to exert undue or unwarranted influence on that
   eBay is the Goliath they are because they provide a good product, not
because of unethical practices. [Like Jeffrey Worley said, "Yet"]
   To go with your metaphor, all it takes is one David with a better
idea to bring them down to size.

Received on Thu Apr 24 2003 - 00:33:00 BST

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