Mobile Service Calls eBay Buyers to the Closing

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EBay buyers no longer have to sit in front of their computers waiting to snag items as auctions close, thanks to UnWired Buyer Inc.'s new cell phone service.

UnWired Buyer is a voice-based commerce platform that delivers real-time interactive mobile notification and transaction services directly to consumers' handsets.

"Instead of buyers scheduling their lives around auctions, now auctions can be coordinated around the lives of buyers," said Stacey Zuniga, co-founder of UnWired Buyer, Austin, TX. "We are trying to bridge the online economy into a real-time economy."

The service alerts users about the ending of eBay auctions that they are watching. Users can make bids directly through the phone call received three minutes prior to the auction's closing. The service aims to help the 50 percent of buyers who lose out because they are away from computers in the final minutes of an auction, Mr. Zuniga said.

EBay users can sign up for the service for free on www.unwiredbuyer.com. When the auction in question is 20 minutes from ending, the buyer gets a notification e-mail. If no bid is made through the e-mail, Unwired Buyer subscribers receive a call to their cell phone three minutes prior to the auction's closing. They have the option to bid again by dialing the bid amount on the phone's keypads.

The service also can be connected to landline telephones. Subscribers can be contacted on PDA devices. In the future, devices like Blackberrys will be a good market, Mr. Zuniga said, but for now most buyers still use regular cell phones.

While UnWired Buyer is now focusing on the eBay alert service, it plans to expand in the coming months. Additional options will be aimed at time-sensitive event purchasing. For example, UnWired Buyer may alert users the moment that tickets for a concert go on sale so they can participate in events that sell out in minutes.

Ultimately, UnWired Buyer lets multiple buyers stay active in the final minutes of bidding. This drives value for sellers by increasing the number of bidders in the moments before a sale.

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