EBay, PayPal cater to developers with new tools

EBay will release in coming months new application programming interfaces (APIs) for external developers to enhance eBay-based applications aimed at online buyers, the San Jose, California company announced Monday at its developer conference in Las Vegas.

EBay expects the new APIs to be particularly attractive to its third-party affiliates, which feature eBay listings on their Web sites and get rewarded for sending traffic to the eBay marketplace, said Greg Isaacs, director of the eBay Developers Program.

One new API will allow affiliates to provide more information about products listed on eBay, theoretically increasing the likelihood that their Web site visitors will click on the listings. The additional product information available via the eBay Product Info API will include reviews and product guides.

Another new API, called Contextual Keywords API, will let them fine-tune the listings displayed on their Web sites if they have blogs or content that is often changing.

Two other APIs are focused on the company's recently-launched eBay Express Web site, which features new, fixed-priced items aimed at a more mainstream buyer than the traditional auction-loving eBay user.

One, called eBay Express Search API, will let affiliates limit the listings their visitors access to eBay Express items, filtering out other eBay inventory, such as used items and those available on auctions.

The other API gives developers access to the eBay Express shopping cart, letting buyers add items from multiple vendors. Prior to eBay Express' launch, eBay lacked a shopping cart.

The company also announced plans to roll out a beta version of a new contextual ad system for its eBay Affiliates Program. Called eBay AdContext, the system will automate for affiliates the inclusion and updating on their Web sites of eBay product information.

Meanwhile, eBay's PayPal online payment unit will improve the Web support for its developers, launching a new community site and revamping its developer hub.

The PayPal Community site (http://www.pdncommunity.com) will feature discussion forums and blogs, so that they can communicate with PayPal experts and other developers. Meanwhile, all developer resources will now be centralized in the Developer Hub (http://www.paypal.com/developer) along with access to an Integration Center which contains product documentation, APIs and software development kits (SDKs).

Improving Web support for developers is key as PayPal grows its base of developers beyond the eBay marketplace, which has been its main market traditionally, said Tim Villanueva, general manager of the PayPal Platform and Developer Network. This "off eBay" market for online payments is, naturally, significantly larger than the eBay market, and represents PayPal's growth focus, he said.

Moreover, ProStores, an eBay unit focused on developing online shops for small- and medium-size businesses, launched a new program for third-party developers to create tools and services for ProStores clients.

EBay also announced that in its first year, the developer program of its Skype Internet telephony unit has signed up around 3,500 developers who have in turn created around 300 software and 100 hardware products.

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