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eBay takes the Critical Path

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Critical Path Software, the company that developed eBay's iPhone app, has been acquired by the online auction house which has also seen fit to coin the term "moppers" to describe mobile users.

eBay has been working with Portland, Oregon-based Critical Path Software for a few years now, on iOS applications designed to make it easier for customers to spend money on the move, or in the bath. By acquiring the company, eBay is taking that expertise in-house, and perhaps spreading some of it to the other mobile platforms the company supports.

Mobile access to auctions is booming, with eBay claiming that 340,000 users log on daily via mobile applications in the UK alone. Not only that, but apparently half that number spend more than £30 a week from their mobile phones. Given the popularity of mobile shopping, it is not surprising that eBay has acquired its leading developer, though neither company is saying how much the deal cost.

Critical Path has provided software development for a wide range of companies, lending a hand with the Mac version of Second Life for Linden Lab in 2006, and creating various cloud printing solutions. In July 2008, it released the official iPhone app for eBay, which the auctioneer tells us has now been downloaded more than 14 million times. Critical Path is very much an iPhone shop these days, and eBay's efforts on other platforms have been criticised as ugly and slow, so perhaps there's a hope of adding some iPhone shine to other platforms.

Mobile buying is certainly here to stay, though we reckon most of it is done from the sofa rather than the street, and we certainly won't be referring to eBay customers using mobile apps as "moppers", no matter how many times the company tells us to use the word.

Moppers looks set to join "mobification", "blook" and "smirting" in the list of words that initially appear as simple grabs for publicity, but rapidly become integrated into our daily language until we forget they were ever created by faceless corporations trying to show they're still hip to the scene. ®

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