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Wed, May 15, 2002 - Page 18 News List

Yahoo-Kimo and eBay square off

By Annabel Lue  /  STAFF REPORTER

Recent moves by Yahoo-Kimo (雅虎奇摩) appear to indicate that the company is gearing up to go head to head against eBay Taiwan in a battle for online shoppers.

Yahoo-Kimo last week launched a large-scale marketing campaign on its auction site that features more than 240,000 products up for bid. The move comes just a week after eBay teamed up with two local portals -- PC Home online (網路家庭) and Microsoft MSN Taiwan -- on May 1.

Yahoo-Kimo yesterday said it's planning to go after online sales in a bid to boost revenue.

"We've designated online auctions as our company's main business this year," said Charlene Hung (洪小玲), marketing director at Yahoo-Kimo.

This isn't the first time the two US-based ventures have squared off overseas. EBay entered Japan in 2000 at a time when Yahoo Japan was dominating that country's e-commerce market.

After a two-year battle, eBay in February decided to pull out from Japan. Stephanie Tilenius, a vice president at eBay International, told to Taipei Times earlier this month that the company decided to retreat from Japan because it wasn't the No. 1 e-commerce operator there.

EBay's market share in Japan was less than 10 percent when the company decided to pull out.

Another executive at the company said eBay doesn't plan to repeat that experience in Taiwan. "The market situations of these two countries are totally different," said Jeffrey Noles, country manager at eBay Taiwan Ltd.

Noles said eBay entered Japan without finding any local partners first, while in Taiwan eBay has a strong local management team.

In February, eBay entered the local market by purchasing a local e-commerce venture, NeoCom Technology Co (力傳資訊), for more than US$9.5 million in cash.

In addition, Noles said the timing was right for eBay to enter Taiwan. "With the nation's online shopping business still in its infancy, this may be the best time for us," he said.

Meanwhile, Yahoo-Kimo's Hung said the company's Japan experience has been very helpful. "We've found out that Japanese and Taiwanese have very similar consumer behaviors," Hung said.

For example, the most popular online auction products in these two countries are CDs, videos and consumer electronics, while in the US consumers prefer to buy collectables.

In addition, Yahoo's market positions in Japan and Taiwan are very similar, as Yahoo Japan and Yahoo-Kimo are leading portals in their respective countries.

This gives the company a strong competitive edge in running new businesses.

"We have good brand recognition and a big user base in Taiwan," Hung said. "Yahoo-Kimo has great potential to be No. 1 in the auction sector, too."

According to NetValue Ltd Taiwan, an Internet research company, in March Yahoo-Kimo ranked as the No. 1 auction Web site, with 639,000 visitors.

EBay Taiwan followed with 537,000 and Coolbid.com (酷必得) was third with 321,000 visitors.

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