Wall Street has long sought an eBay site redesign. Finally, eBay has a plan to get one . The company announced Project Echo, a software platform for third-party developers whom the company hopes will do the heavy lifting to get such a redesign done. "Rather than having eBay try to build every feature, we should open up the platform and integrate others' work," eBay exec Max Mancini told reporters. Project Echo is the perfect name, if only because we've heard all this before.
These days Facebook, MySpace, Google, Apple, Salesforce.com and LinkedIn all call themselves platforms and hope third-party developers will believe it. One reason eBay stands a chance: Like all of those services, it has millions of users; unlike most of those services, all of eBay's users visit the site to spend or make money. If a developer can build an app to "reduce the friction" in an eBay transaction — as an MBA might put it — then there's a chance they could get away with taking a tiny cut for themselves. Already, outside developers have built 12,000 programs, accounting for a quarter of all eBay listings.