eBay Purchases RedLaser to Beef Up Mobile Offering

eBay has acquired the RedLaser mobile application and related technology from Occipital for an undisclosed sum. In this interview with ubiquitious blogger Robert Scoble, Steve Yankovich, eBay's vice president of mobile, explained that RedLaser would be quickly integrated into eBay's mobile offerings (calling it a "close cousin to Shopping.com").

RedLaser provides an iPhone app that is highly rated as a UPC (barcode) reader. Yankovich sees it as a very accurate way to enter a product description for the purpose of discovering the best price or determining availability from a nearby retailer or online vendor.

The giant online marketplace, eBay, is morphing from an auction house, where mobile devices enable members to monitor the status of their bids into a deal-finder where mobile phones are utilities through which shoppers can enter keywords for the items they seek and then eBay finds the lowest price for goods, not just on its core eBay site but, more importantly, on shopping.com, which provides search tools along with both product and merchant reviews from the Epinions community. RedLaser becomes a mechanism for accurately entering product descriptions to initiate the shopping process.

As an immediate result of the acquisition, the RedLaser app (which used to carry a $1.99 price tag) is now offered for free in the iTunes App Store, where it had already been downloaded a reported two million times.