eBay acquires RedLaser barcode-scanning iPhone app, makes it free

Invisible Shield for Apple iPhone 4!eBay today announced that it has acquired RedLaser, the popular barcode-scanning application for iPhone, and related technology from Occipital. With over two million downloads, RedLaser is the top-selling iPhone barcode-scanning application for comparison shopping and finding product information using a mobile device. Terms for the deal were not disclosed.

“Mobile enables consumers to make impulse buys and convenient purchases wherever they are, and eBay is constantly innovating to make mobile shopping easy and reduce the friction in commerce,” said Mark Carges, chief technology officer and senior vice president, global products, eBay Marketplaces, in the press release. “With RedLaser’s innovative technology, eBay is continuing to help shoppers quickly find the best deals online, and eBay sellers will be able to list their items faster.”

eBay plans to integrate RedLaser’s barcode-scanning technology into its leading iPhone applications, including its eBay Marketplace, eBay Selling, StubHub and Shopping.com applications, providing more than 10 million users with access to product information for fast and easy selling and comparison shopping. The technology is designed to help consumers find great deals online for virtually any product with a barcode, and for eBay sellers to quickly create listings by accessing pricing trends and product details for millions of items in eBay’s catalog. The eBay Selling application for the iPhone will be the first iPhone application to take advantage of RedLaser’s barcode-scanning technology for mobile users to sell items online.

eBay is immediately transitioning RedLaser from a paid application to a free standalone application. The company also plans to significantly increase selection on RedLaser by integrating more than 200 million listings from eBay, as well as product inventory from over 7,000 global merchants on Shopping.com, including 95 of the top 100 online retailers.

The RedLaser technology is being used in a wide variety of applications including grocery shopping lists, gift registries, and nutritional tracking. eBay plans on increasing developer support of the RedLaser technology in the future.

The acquisition of the RedLaser application builds on eBay Inc.’s momentum and innovation in mobile commerce. In 2010, eBay released an iPad application and three new iPhone apps: eBay Selling, eBay Classifieds and StubHub. eBay Inc. is a global leader in mobile commerce with $1.5 billion in gross merchandise volume (GMV) expected in 2010 through its mobile platforms. eBay’s mobile applications are available to millions of iPhone, BlackBerry and Android users in more than 190 countries and eight languages. A mobile purchase is made every two seconds via eBay’s mobile applications.

Source: eBay Inc.

More info about RedLaser (free) via Apple’s iTunes App Store here.


  1. Two things:
    1. RedLaser will now be a tool to forward you to the appropriate E-bay store front to buy from THEM instead of the poor SOB trying to run a local store.

    2. As you can tell, I have a problem with the ethics of this application. Most people see it a harmless method to make their shopping more efficient. What they miss is the long term erosion this will have on retail outlets. No business can operate strictly as a “showroom” for the latest gear. An owner of a camera store needs to pay for the store or stores (to be conveniently close to us), his inventory (so we can examine real objects and maybe leave the store owning something new), and the staff (that helps you make a buying decision). Is fair or ethical to go to this store, do comparison shopping, perhaps engage the sales person to learn more about the various models, and then scan the product code and buy from some online warehouse for a $10 savings?

    It saddens me that there isn’t more critical thinking on this. It’s one of those new technology questions of “just because we can, does that mean we should?”

    I will miss the option to go to a store and view the real product before making a purchase. Technology like Redlaser will make that a thing of the past. And when there are no stores left, where will you go to scan a bar code?

  2. @spark

    What do you suggest? That we create artificial barriers to prevent this? Personally I hate ebay and I dont’ buy or sell there anymore, they are a giant with no ears to hear.

    But this technology is great and its use is free and open, its not of question of should we but more a question of how you live with it.

  3. @Speedyg

    You can’t do much other than to refuse to be a part of the destructive behavior, and to speak out about as I have.

    I ask people to just think about the ramifications of large numbers of consumers using this method to shop for a product and then buy somewhere else. Play it out over time. It is corrosive behavior. It is kind of like a Ponzi scheme where a few people early in the cycle reap benefits, but ultimately a much larger group is damaged.

    I know most here won’t agree with me because it is seductive to “get a bargain”; be part of “hunt”. But mark my words, this activity will hasten end of the local retail store. No window shopping. No “feeling the material”, or trying on clothes before buying. No stereo shops. No local camera store where the sales guys REALLY know the pros and cons of every product. Be fair to your local business owners, even if it cost a few extra bucks.

  4. @Spark

    Your point about dangers to local small business from apps like RedLaser is valid. But is the solution to saving local small business keeping their customers ignorant? I hope not.

    For a small retailer to survive against big box stores and Internet shopping, they must offer something special. That something special is typically service. Service means catering to your customers, special ordering what they want, keeping them informed on the status of orders, and being available to answer their questions.

    Unfortunately, many small retailers never learned these skills and those are the guys that go belly-up when the newest Home Depot or Walmart opens nearby. To them I say good riddance, don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out. Their exit will make room for new retailers who specialize and offer great service.

    Now if only our government would take the same approach with banks.

  5. I wonder how long MacDailyNews will ignore the following stories:
    1) iPhone 4’s glass back can scratch
    2) iPhone 4’s screens are showing up with small discolorations/blotches
    3) Holding the iPhone 4 in certain ways causes the phone to lose all bars and eventually to drop the connection (speculation being that it’s because you are directly touching the antennas in this design – hence the Apple bumper case, some have cynically postulated)

    Tough to give these the Apple can do no wrong spin.

  6. Bill:

    you are the epitome of methodical and thourough , I’m sure you’ve witneesed all of these enourmous issues personally on at least 5% of the pruduction run. Run….

  7. I really hope that Ebay knows its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to this product. Red Laser started becoming a bad product when they stopped linking to Amazon. Something that it seems Ebay is going to do also.

    Ebay stinks when it comes to books and non auction items, so will they do the right thing and open this up to other stores for comparison pricing? Or will we be stuck with Uncle Dan’s Garage sale items on Ebay for best pricing?

    Amazon should be the listing for books and small independent markets should be opened up also with Ebay getting a commission for sales. For example, if my local store has the best price and you order through the program, then Ebay should get a 2-5% cut of the gross or net. That way even the small stores that are local or small web stores can get a piece of the pie.

    Congratulations to the Red Laser team though on making a great product. And for getting a deal done. Let’s just hope that Ebay does the right thing with this….


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