Shares of eBay fell nearly 4 percent yesterday after a published report said the Web-auction leader was in talks to buy Net-telephony phenomenon...
SAN FRANCISCO — Shares of eBay fell nearly 4 percent yesterday after a published report said the Web-auction leader was in talks to buy Net-telephony phenomenon Skype Technologies, a prospect some analysts found illogical.
eBay’s stock price fell $1.53 to close at $38.93 yesterday after The Wall Street Journal reported that a price of $2 billion to $3 billion was being discussed in acquisition talks.
eBay and Skype refused to comment on what they called rumors and speculation.
Skype’s free software lets people talk for free over the Internet using computers and microphones.
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Skype has 53 million registered users, and the company says more than 2 million people use Skype at any given moment. Since it was introduced in 2003, the company’s free software has been downloaded more than 151 million times.
“I would be shocked and dismayed if eBay made this move to get into the telephone business,” said Maribel Lopez, a telecommunication analyst with Forrester Research. “A bunch of companies [including Google, Yahoo! and MSN] already offer voice as part of instant-messaging.”
If eBay is eyeing Skype, the auction site likely covets the Luxembourg company’s technology as a means to strengthen the lines of communication between eBay’s buyers and sellers, Lopez said.
But even that could meet with lukewarm response from eBay users.
Some eBay sellers already complain that e-mail and instant messages from customers eat up valuable time.
Taking phone calls could just be another demand on their time, said David Edwards, an analyst with American Technology Research.
“Even if having integrated voice communication between buyers and sellers is a good thing, I’m not certain that eBay would need to acquire the capability,” Edwards said.
eBay had said in April it may forge partnerships with mobile-phone and Voice over Internet Protocol providers.
Earlier this year, a British newspaper reported that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. had explored a $3 billion offer for Skype.