Treating Mobiles as second-class citizens

Ok, now I’m annoyed. I just now used my Droid to happen over to eBay, on a curious whim to see what kind of Android platforms were available there. I ignored the “download our eBay Android app!” tag, and searched “droid”. Of course, even in the smart phone and pda category, there’s so much crappy accessory noise in that search result that if you want to see actual phones, you have to search by price, which capability, of course, the visionaries at eBay have seen fit to exclude from the mobile version of their site.

So I continue, and finding a Verizon-branded Droid for sale, I am intrigued, and I click. Following practically NO information, I find the words, “visit eBay using a computer before you bid or buy”. This is followed by buttons to bid or buy, of course, but since they’ve left out the details of the auction,

Why DO mobile versions turn out to be crippleware? The opportunity of an ubiquitous platform, with a potential to add millions of hits, possibly at previously off-peak times. As for their app, the answer is just “no”. Publishing an app is not a substitute for providing a viable web interface. Even if you ARE eBay, you don’t merit space on my phone, and neither do your neighbors. I already have an eBay-accessing app on my phone, it’s called “Browser”.  Having an “Access Full Site” link is silly, too. You spent a mint on development for your mobile site, eBay, and you failed. You could have put something useful in the hands of the exploding population of people with handheld computers (for some reason, we call them “phones”, but how silly is that?), but you decided to play thumb-switch, instead.

Wake up, content providers. Stop making the mobile version of your site a disappointment.