2011: Mobile Year in Review — Q&A with Deepak Thomas, General Manager of Classifieds at eBay.

December 20th, 2011 by

It is time for our next post in the “2011: A Mobile Year in Review” – our Q&A style blog series that features the thoughts and insights of mobile industry luminaries, media executives and brand marketers.

In this post, Deepak Thomas, General Manager of Classifieds at eBay (@ebay) shares with us what catalysts contributed to the growth of mobile at eBay Classifieds and how his business unit evolved their mobile presence in 2011. Lastly, Deepak talks about the shrink-wrapped software days and why he’s glad they are behind us.

Deepak Thomas is the General Manager at eBay Classifieds US. He was previously GM of Mobile Classifieds at eBay with responsibilities for their global mobile properties in Americas, EMEA, and APAC. Prior to that, he was GM of Mobile Products at IAC/Match.com and held  various product and partner development roles at Oracle Corp.’s Mobile Products division. He also held P&L responsibility for the ESPN wireless remote product while at Chicago-based mobile startup tvCompass Inc., where he also served as Director of product marketing. Deepak holds an MBA in Marketing and Finance from the University of Chicago.

Q – What was the single biggest mobile innovation you saw this year?

A I think I will go with Siri. Not only is it a great user-interface for a device that has user-input challenges (compared to the desktop), but it also understands context as well as adapts to the user. Truly remarkable. Watch the floodgates open as a new breed of apps comes in to vogue with Apple eventually opening up API access to Siri. Voice interfaces were always inherent to mobile devices (compared to the desktop), they just got smarter.

Q – What catalysts contributed to the growth of mobile within eBay Classifieds?

A Going beyond adapting the most popular subset of features from desktop to mobile was important. However, going beyond the ‘mobile as mini-me to desktop’ approach was even more important – exploring functionality unique to mobile was crucial. Our mobile site helped us understand the distribution of popular devices among our user base and then use that to build our native app strategy around it.

Q – What is the most effective way your organization has used mobile in 2011?

A In 2011, Mobile has driven both new user acquisition, as well as engagement of existing users. That way it’s been truly accretive to traffic and engagement metrics.

Q – How did your organization’s mobile web presence evolve in 2011?

A We launched mobile web for eBay Classifieds in 2011. It helps us reach any of our users who have a phone with a data plan, not just smartphone users. We recently introduced a mobile website that is better adapted to smartphone-class devices, as well.

Q – How significant of a role did mobile web play in 2011 and what can expect in the future?

A We will continue to iterate on mobile web. In fact, with mobile web, brands are now able to reclaim the ease with which they were able to test and iterate features on the desktop web before apps sent us all back to the days of shrink-wrapped software.

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