Editor’s Note: The following story comes from www.wired.com.
Kenneth Hamilton found the perfect RV on eBay and had to have it. Never mind that the auction was scheduled to end on the same day as the big Alabama-Auburn football game. Hamilton, a University of Alabama season ticket holder, wasn’t about to scuttle his trip to the Iron Bowl just to win a new toy.
So he did what any tech-savvy football fan would do in this super-connected age: He placed the winning bid of $178,100 using his phone while sitting in restaurant watching another football game with his 13-year-old son.
“We were just sitting in there enjoying our day, and I continued to watch the auction as time wound down,” Hamilton said. A swipe of the finger later and Hamilton was the proud owner of a 2007 Tiffin Zephyr. “Other patrons in the restaurant just figured I was being rude, paying more attention to my phone than anything else.”
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this is just how common such purchases are.
The automotive category led all mobile shopping on eBay between Nov. 22 and Dec. 5. In that time it brought in $7.9 million in the United States alone, according to the auction site. That’s an increase of 136% over last year, and automobiles easily led the second biggest category — clothing. EBay Mobile users bought nearly $400,000 worth of vehicles and related items on Thanksgiving Day alone, presumably from phones hidden under the dinner table.
Black Friday was no less bountiful for the auction site. Eight shoppers waiting in line for $9 DVD players bought cars from their phones. The company says vehicle sales made with smartphones during the Thanksgiving holiday were up 17% over last year; sales of auto parts jumped 80%. These figures represent sales of cars, trucks and auto parts and don’t include things like motorcycles.
“The reason we are seeing so many mobile automotive purchases on eBay this holiday season is because there has been a shift in consumer behavior,” said Steve Yankovich, vice president of mobile at eBay. “Our mobile app allows consumers to act immediately when a need arises, or as soon as inspiration strikes. When you’re with your vehicle, looking for a matching part or an accessory, or searching for a new car altogether, you probably won’t be at your computer but you will have your smartphone with you. For example, if you’re driving your car and you realize your muffler needs to be fixed, you can search for a replacement as soon as you park, right from our mobile app.”
Buying a muffler for your hoopty or that cherry AMC Pacer you’ve been dreaming about will get a whole lot easier. EBay rolled into last month’s big Specialty Equipment Market Association auto biz trade show with an eBay Motors-specific smartphone app slated for release in the first quarter of 2011.
Our friends over at Edmunds got a look at the app and it seems pretty cool. Buyers can create a gallery of cars that match their specific interests and save their own car to narrow down parts searches, while sellers can scan VINs to ensure accuracy.