tasty morsels of goodness on open platforms, developer relations and motherhood 2.0

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Cool eBay Info from your Phone: Mpire Researcher Mobile

On Monday night, it hits me. I need to send off a gift to my newest nephew, Michael William. Cute as a button, born April 22nd, 7 lbs, 7 oz., 19 inches.

Suddenly, I'm on a mission, in the middle of a store, grinding through my checklist of weekly errands. Something practical, I think. Something colorful. Something he won't outgrow in a month. What was the useful stuff we got at our baby shower...? Yes! I know. A Bumbo Chair. Looks like it will cost me $39.99 if I buy it here, plus dealing with the line at the post office during lunch, or worse, at the weekend, plus purchasing proper packaging for shipping. Ick. I wonder how much are they selling for on eBay?

Mprielogoleft Nowhere near a desktop? No problem. Enter Mpire Researcher Mobile. In the middle of the store aisle, I quickly typed in Keyword "bumbo chair" in my mobile phone (loving the Treo 650 QWERTY keyboard right now), and waited about 40 seconds for the researcher service to download the results. I typed in an "ipod nano" search later that came back in under 5 seconds.

Once downloaded, the Quick Summary and Details results were very zippy. The Quick Summary screen came back with the info I was looking for: during the month of April 2006, bumbo chairs averaged a selling price of $38.35 and 96% of all bumbo chair listings sold. I guess more than one cute nephew was born in April! Cheaper, no post office line AND I can get out of this store immediately? Now you're talking.

The Mpire Researcher mobile service allows users to access data about items sold on eBay from anywhere by using their web-enabled mobile phone. The general idea is to enable eBay buyers and eBay sellers to use historical market data from millions of eBay listings to make better buying and selling decisions. eBay buyers can find out useful data, such as Average Selling Price and % sold. eBay sellers can use the service for recommendations on how to price their items and which listing upgrades have worked best in the past.

It's definitely easy to read and navigate on the screen of your mobile phone - here a screenshot of the Quick Summary screen: Mobile_screen2

So, how about when my daughter has outgrown her own Bumbo chair? I could loan it to another new mommy - or sell it on eBay. According to the recommendations on Mpire Researcher Mobile's Details menu, I should sell it as a 1-day Auction Listing ending between 6-7PM PT on Tuesday, place it under the Baby > Feeding > High Chairs & Booster Chairs category, and Yes, I should do the gallery image listing upgrade, but No, not to bother with bold or highlight listing upgrades for this item. Helpful.

My only delay in gratification with Mpire Researcher Mobile was with the initial set-up. After signing up online for the free trial, I immediately received a text message with the web address to access for the download. Ease of set-up from this point varied wildly depending on the particular mobile device type and carrier combination, from Very Easy on my co-worker's Nokia 6682 on Cingular, to Very Hard on the Treo 650 on Sprint (involving my husband, a JVM reinstall and a soft reboot), to Impossible on a Samsung on T-Mobile (not listed as a supported manufacturer/carrier combo).

I got to meet Dave Cotter of Mpire at an Innovation Day that eBay hosted in mid-March, where he was showing off his demo of the desktop Researcher product. Their mobile product is free through the initial launch period, and after the launch period, it will be $4.99 a month for unlimited searches via your cell phone. For when strokes of genius gift-giving hit you in the middle of the baby supplies aisle.


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