October 23, 2009, 12:00 AM

eBay CEO touts m-commerce, predicts half a billion dollars in mobile sales

John J. Donahoe, president and CEO of eBay, says m-commerce is a key area for innovation at the web marketplace. He predicts $500 million in sales through eBay`s m-commerce site and iPhone app this year, and says a new version of the app is on the way.

When eBay Inc. CEO John J. Donahoe speaks, people listen. His company hit $59.7 billion in sales last year, so he probably knows a little something about selling online.

Donahoe stresses innovation as a key factor to growing sales on eBay, and in this week’s third quarter 2009 earnings call, he singled out mobile commerce as a pathway to a better customer experience and increased sales.

The eBay mobile commerce site and the eBay iPhone app, which has been downloaded more than 4 million times, are expected to generate more than half a billion dollars in gross merchandise value this year, Donahoe said. During the first nine months of 2009, the mobile channel generated $380 million in sales, eBay reported late last month. The iPhone app accounts for about 60% of sales while the mobile site accounts for about 40%.

“Mobile commerce is another area in which we are driving innovation to deliver a better user experience,” Donahoe said. “Consumers can more easily use PayPal for their purchases on the iPhone than ever before. We are rapidly iterating in mobile and will soon be introducing the next version of our eBay iPhone app with improved functionality and features.”

Donahoe colleague Steve Yankovich, vice president of platform business solutions and mobile, recently told Internet Retailer that m-commerce has finally blossomed into a full-fledged sales channel.

“There’s no question m-commerce has arrived,” Yankovich said. “We’re changing the way people participate in commerce. If you are a retailer today and you’re not offering the customer the ability to participate in commerce whenever and wherever they want and another retailer does, you’re going to have a problem.”

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