EBay goes mobile with Opera in Germany

EBay Inc. is offering its users in Germany a customized version of the Opera Mini cell phone browser to make it easier for them to buy and sell things through the eBay site from their mobile phone.

EBay Germany, the second largest eBay community after the U.S., is offering its customers the Opera Mini eBay edition browser so that they can sell, bid on and buy products from eBay using their mobile phones in the same way they do on their computers.

The browser start page will feature an eBay search field and eBay bookmarks and is free to download. The browser, developed by Norwegian company Opera Software ASA, is compatible with most Java-capable phones.

EBay Germany customers could previously bid on and buy products on their mobile phones but using text message and a stripped-down Web page specially designed for mobile phones, said Alexander Witt, an eBay Germany spokesman. Using the customized Opera Mini browser, customers will see the same eBay Web pages they see on their computers and the browsing, bidding and buying experience will be the same, he said.

Opera Mini is a small application that receives Web pages from servers hosted either by Opera Software ASA or an Opera customer that compress the sites to make them load faster and fit the small screens of mobile phones.

As part of the agreement, Opera will host the back-end servers for the eBay browser, said Eskil Sivertsen, an Opera spokesman. EBay will pay Opera a set fee for each transaction made by an eBay customer using the Opera Mini browser, he said.

Customers can download the browser for free from Opera or receive the application via text message. The browser isn’t technically limited to people living in Germany although it will connect to the German-language eBay Web site, Sivertsen said.

The offering is currently a pilot project but eBay hasn’t set a firm timeframe for deciding whether or not to continue the offering, Witt said. While there is no formal plan for eBay to roll out a similar service in other countries, if the pilot goes well other countries will likely also offer it, he said.

Opera first launched the Opera Mini browser and service last year. T-Mobile International AG & Co. KG became the first customer to offer a customized version of the browser, loading it onto phones that can be used by customers of its mobile Internet service.

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