eBay unveils integrated app dev platform

Called X.commerce, the platform pulls together tools and functionality for merchants and app developers

eBay has launched an application development platform called X.commerce that pulls in tools and functionality from a variety of its sites and products, including the eBay marketplace and PayPal, as well as from partners.

With X.commerce, eBay intends to give merchants and application developers access to a complete stack of e-commerce technologies, including shopping carts, payment services, and inventory management, the company said Wednesday.

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The idea is to let merchants and developers come up with a broad variety of e-commerce applications that meet the increasingly changing requirements and scenarios that shoppers face, including social networking interactions, mobile commerce and others.

X.commerce, which eBay describes as an "open commerce ecosystem," includes an element called Fabric, an "operating system" that will let developers distribute their wares to eBay merchants.

As part of the X.commerce launch, eBay also announced PayPal Access, an identity system that merchants can implement to let consumers use their PayPal username and password to sign up and log into their e-commerce sites.

Relying on PayPal to handle their customer sign in and authentication will make the process safer and simpler for participating websites, eBay said.

PayPal Access appears to be similar to tools from companies like Google and Facebook but tailored specifically for e-commerce sites.

eBay also announced that it has integrated Facebook's Open Graph into its Magento and GSI commerce commerce software so that developers can create applications that tap into Facebook features.

Brian Walker, a Forrester Research analyst, said that X.commerce gives eBay an opportunity to extend its platforms by letting partners augment the core Magento, PayPal, eBay, and GSI products, and by allowing developers to leverage those platforms to build other customer applications and extend the commerce capability beyond online commerce.

X.commerce should appeal to merchants and developers as well. "I expect there will be a lot of activity where agencies, development shops, integrators, partners, and merchants leverage X.commerce in their business, though it is not yet clear how the offering will appear to larger companies eBay no doubt also wants to attract," Walker said via email.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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