I just bought a Sony Playstation 3 on eBay (for research! Honest!). I am not a very experienced user, so perhaps my observations will be old hat.
I have never participated in such an active market for any one item on eBay. There are currently over 15,000 new PS3 systems for sale on eBay. About 50,000 auctions have ended since the PS3 went on sale. Every few seconds, another auction ends, so there are tons of data about the market price. The problem is, the tools for looking at the data are abysmal.
There is a lot of noise in the data. Some sellers are blatantly advertising off-eBay auctions. Others are setting very high starting bids or reserve prices. Many are offering extras such as software—I even saw an auction for a PS3 plus a Nintendo Wii. EBay’s search limitations make it very difficult to filter out the noise. For example, you cannot search for completed auctions with a certain number of bids. I also don’t see a way to filter for highly rated sellers.
Is it just me, or does eBay look like a web site stuck in the 1990′s? I have heard the explanation that fanatical users scream whenever eBay tries to improve their look and feel. However, it seems to me that their core asset is just a database. Why can’t they offer the old interface to whoever wants it and a better one for everybody else?
P.S. It looks as though the market price for the PS3 is about $300 above retail. This does not bode well for the PS3, given that now is the peak buying season and there is a very real shortage of supply.