November 25, 2009, 12:00 AM

eBay is doubling down on its mobile commerce strategy

EBay says it will take in $500 million in mobile sales this year via its site and app. Now it’s growing its mobile channel with a second app, this one focused on the best deals the app can find. And there will be more to come.

One app just wasn’t good enough for Internet retailing giant eBay Inc. Its original app is still going strong-generating more than 5 million downloads and, with its sister m-commerce site, more than $500 million in sales this year. It gives consumers the full eBay experience within the confines of a smartphone. The new, second app focuses exclusively on finding the best deals.

The new Deals app, available for free through Apple Inc.’s App Store, features a Daily Deals button on the home screen followed by eight categories represented by icons: apparel, sports, computers, instruments, jewelry, electronics, collectibles and photography. Tapping on the Daily Deals button leads to eBay’s deal of the day on fixed-price merchandise. Tapping on one of the product category icons produces a list of the best buys in that category throughout eBay.

Shoppers can also create their own deal categories. After conducting a search using various keywords, a shopper can tap a button that turns that search into a deal category with its own icon. The shopper then can delete one of the eight pre-loaded deal icons and replace it with her own.

Some retailers have operated a mobile app store and launched a second app for a special sale or season; but those second apps were only temporary. EBay’s Deals app is a permanent addition to the merchant’s mobile commerce line-up. What’s more, it’s a shift in strategy, as eBay says it likely will pursue more “vertical apps” in the future.

“This all has to do with where we think the mobile Internet is going-it’s going to see tremendous growth,” says Steve Yankovich, vice president of platform business solutions and mobile at eBay. “People are de-coupling from their wired machines. Our shift in mobile strategy is illustrated by the release of the second app. We will continue to release focused experiences in apps. We see mobile as a way to build more vertical methods to engage the consumer in unique and compelling ways where they can find products more simply.”

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