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Am I The Only One?

Monday, August 09, 2004

The Greatest Internet Site of All

It's Ebay.

Why? Because it's a vast, teeming pool of entertainment and business that shows no sign of stopping. Anything and everything is for sale.

Want to buy a tumbleweed? How about a cat-tail from a marsh? Or what about women's soiled undergarments? (no kidding) There was much ado about human body parts available on Ebay a few years ago, but they have put a stop to that. So there is a line there, apparently.

Ebay is, and has always been, a Seller's tool. People get caught up in the thrill of winning the auction and bid $157 for something used they can buy new for $149 at Amazon.com. The thrill of the winning bid helps the seller every time.

I've been passively following the online market for soda pop cap codes on Ebay. Soda companies run promotions where they print a code on the bottom of soda bottle caps, and these codes can be redeemed for prizes at the company's website. The hottest cap code program this summer was Moutain Dew's DewU program, where for 550 cap codes you can get a limited-edition green Xbox.

It was fascinating to watch an open market develop for these free codes. You could browse over 100 DewU cap code auctions, and as each auction finished, the prices paid for these codes were pretty consistent -- about 25 cents per code, or about 20 cents per code in groups of 10 or more codes. The worldwide market of buyers all seemed to agree on the a value for these codes, just like a mini stock market. There's a doctoral thesis in there somewhere, all you MBA students.

I keep wondering what kind of Internet business will show up to replace Ebay as the place to buy and sell, but so far I can't imagine what would.

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