June 24, 2010, 5:25 PM

eBay bids on bar code scanning

EBay invests in mobile yet again with its purchase of RedLaser, a mobile app for scanning bar codes.

Lead Photo

Online marketplace and payments systems company eBay Inc. is at the forefront of mobile commerce. It sold $600 million worth of goods via the mobile channel in 2009 and predicts that number to rise to $1.5 billion this year. It was one of the first out of the gate with a shopping app for Apple’s iPad. And it launched three new iPhone apps last year. Now it’s casting another vote of confidence in mobile with its purchase of RedLaser, a mobile app for scanning bar codes, from Boulder, CO-based technology startup company Occipital.

RedLaser, which Occipital launched last year,  enables in-store shoppers to comparison shop on the spot. Shoppers hold an iPhone up to a product and RedLaser scans the bar code, identifies the item and product details, and searches the web for similar products. RedLaser has been downloaded more than two million times, according to eBay. It used to cost $1.99, but eBay has made the app free as part of the acquisition. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

EBay says it plans to integrate RedLaser’s bar code scanning technology into its iPhone app, including its versions for eBay Marketplace, eBay Selling, eBay Classifieds, StubHub and Shopping.com. It will start with its selling app for the iPhone, enabling eBay sellers to use the technology to quickly create listings by accessing pricing trends and product details for items in eBay’s catalog.

“EBay sellers will be able to list their items faster,” says Mark Carges, chief technology officer and senior vice president, global products, eBay Marketplaces.

EBay also will increase selection on RedLaser by integrating more than 200 million listings from eBay, as well as product inventory from over 7,000 merchants on Shopping.com into the technology.

RedLaser technology is being used today in a wide variety of apps including grocery lists, gift registries and nutritional tracking. EBay says it plans on increasing developer support for the technology.

EBay’s purchase of RedLaser is one of several recent developments in the battle over bar code scanning technology.  Mobile technology vendor Getfugu announced in March a deal with HyTech Professionals to develop mobile bar code scanning technology and AT&T said recently it will test bar code scanning on its phones. In May, Target introduced bar code scanning functionality within its free iPhone app.

Shoppers make a mobile purchase via one of eBay’s apps every two seconds, eBay says, and the company’s apps for the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android are available in more than 190 countries and eight languages.

Occipital, which describes itself as a computer vision technology company, meanwhile, says it plans to introduce a new mobile app in the third quarter.




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