Yahoo! Auctions Go Global

Expanding the global reach of its online auctions, Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) rolled out its popular service Thursday in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Each of the new Yahoo! Auctions — Yahoo! UK & Ireland, Yahoo! Australia & New Zealand and Yahoo! Canada — will be free to registered users and offer access to local auctions as well as international ones. Yahoo! Auctions, launched in the U.S. in September 1998, features 2,000 buying and selling categories. They include arts and entertainment, toys, games, antiques, home and garden, cameras, computer and electronics.

“Yahoo! continues to strive to be the single place on the Web that individuals go to find and connect with others who have similar interests,” said Mark Inkster, international operations director. “Yahoo! Auctions provide buyers and sellers with a global marketplace to easily find relevant parties and conduct person-to-person transactions.”

Yahoo! also added new charity auctions within each region, with proceeds going to causes like the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, the Heart Foundation of Australia and the American Red Cross relief efforts in Kosovo.

Fierce Competition

Rollout of the new international auction sites comes as online bidding moves into the mainstream with a vengeance, fueling fierce competition among major players trying to carve out market share.

eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY), the No. 1 online auction service, continues adding new services to try to stay on top and just signed a $260 million deal ($US) to buy high-end auction house Butterfield & Butterfield.

As Yahoo! expanded its auction services internationally, eBay announced yet another innovation Thursday: a partnership with SkyTel Communications Inc. that will let users bid using wireless devices like pagers, cell phones or personal digital assistants.

With the July launch of the service, bidders will be notified if they’re outbid or if they’re winning bidders, and wireless users will get messages that go to all eBay users. “SkyTel will make it possible for eBay users to get the very latest information on items they are bidding on and selling when they are running errands, doing the shopping or driving the kids to school,” said Steve Westly, eBay’s VP of marketing and business development.

Amazon.com, too, has entered the online auction frenzy in earnest with its Amazon.com Auctions on March 30. Amazon is trying to entice its 8 million registered customers to try the new service by offering users $10 gift certificates good for book, music, video and gift purchases.

Santa Clara, California-based Yahoo! boasts more than 60 million worldwide users, has 18 worldwide portal sites and offices in the U.S., Europe, the Asia Pacific and South America.

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