eBay launches classified ad sites

OK, it had to happen, and now it has: eBay is launching classified ad sites: “Online auction house eBay opens classified advertising sites to find new ways to help maintain profit growth.”

But how they’re doing it seems interesting: they’re launching the service in Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, under a different (and rather odd) brand, Kijiji. Apparently the sites launched on February 28, so you probably already know all this.

Kijiji isn’t coming up on Google as an eBay service (although the news story does), though I did learn that kijiji means “small village” in Swahili, which is rather intriguing when you think about it. And the Canadian site (kijiji.ca) is only French-language, which confirms that eBay have avoided the English-speaking market with this. I wonder why? Is this a land grab?

The page itself makes no mention of eBay at all, and is very lo-fi in terms of design (a nod to Craigslist, perhaps?). My limited French enables me to translate the introductory text as: “Welcome to the beta version of Kijiji. Use Kijiji to communicate with your community. You’ll find everything you need – accommodation, furniture, jobs, perhaps even friends. There’s lot more and it’s all free!”

There’s only half a dozen posts on the Montreal version’s forum. They include “Post something here to get things started – Ebay needs MORE”, “English people are here too – where’s the English site?” (why do English speakers always assume an English-language version of something is obligatory?), “This service is lame” and the possibly perspicacious “Goes after Craigslist’s jugular!”

(Via BBC News | Technology | UK Edition.)