January 30, 2012, 12:39 PM

eBay adds live video and visual search to its auto app

The marketplace sells 2,800 cars every week through its mobile apps.

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Online marketplace eBay Inc. is once again pioneering in mobile commerce, this time with its newly updated eBay Motors app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. It has added live video streaming and visual search to the popular application.

EBay has partnered with cable television channel Speed to broadcast live coverage of auto events and races exclusive to eBay Motors. This coverage will include racing experts such as former professional racers providing live, behind-the-scenes reporting from events. The marketplace also will conduct exclusive auctions of products including high-end automobiles after events and races.

Visual search is another new feature added in the update of the eBay Motors app. Using image recognition technology, consumers can take a picture of a car and the app will recognize it and display information on the vehicle. Visual search is an important development in m-commerce because it reduces what m-commerce executives like to call “friction,” that is, anything that stands in the way of the consumer making a purchase. The friction in this case is typing—removing the need to type speeds the process of finding a product, aiding mobile shoppers who typically are on the go and looking for something fast, as opposed to sitting at a desk browsing.

Other new features include push notifications and social media. An app user can elect to have push notifications—short messages that appear as pop-up windows on a smartphone screen—sent to him when he is outbid during an auction and when an auction is closing. And users on iPhones and iPod Touch devices running Apple Inc.’s iOS 5 mobile operating system, introduced last fall with the iPhone 4S, can share information on products they are buying or selling through their Twitter accounts.

“Car lovers have embraced mobile shopping, with 127,000 parts and 2,800 cars sold each week worldwide through eBay mobile applications alone,” says Steve Yankovich, eBay’s vice president of mobile. “We are enhancing this experience with entertaining original content and image search. The eBay Motors app is a one-stop destination for auto fans, from their next purchase to behind-the-scenes footage of a raceway event, whether they are at home or on the go.”

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