During the Auction: Monitor Auctions Offline With Handheld Devices

First Published: Auctionwatch.com
Date Published: 2000
Copyright © 2000 by Kevin Savetz

On the bus. In a meeting. During dinner. In class. What can you do when your body is away from the computer but your mind still is focused on online auctions? Simple: Even when you're away from your desktop or laptop, you can stay connected to your auctions with an alphanumeric pager or Palm VII handheld computer.

eBay A-Go-Go

eBay's pager service, called eBay a-go-go, can alert you when you are outbid, win an auction, or your item is sold. You'll receive a short message on your pager such as "Outbid! Cat on a Stick $12.50." It could be a great service for online auction addicts, despite the silly name.

The notification service is free, but you'll need an alphanumeric pager. eBay's partner in the pager biz is SkyTel, but you don't have to be a SkyTel customer to use eBay a-go-go. In fact, the service works with any wireless device that has an Internet email address and accepts alphanumeric messages--including some cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) as well as plain old pagers.

If you already have an alphanumeric pager or other compatible device, you can click here to activate eBay a-go-go.

If you don't have a pager yet, SkyTel will (naturally) be happy to be your paging service, for a fee. If you feel the need to show the world that you're an auction geek, you can even get a pager emblazoned with the eBay logo. Still, it's just a regular pager that can keep you in touch with real people in addition to providing auction alerts.

When you sign up for the service, SkyTel creates a special email address for you. Tell eBay to email auction notices to the SkyTel address. Then, when you receive one, SkyTel will abbreviate the message and forward it to your pager. You will receive notification in your regular email box, as usual.

For more information about eBay a-go-go, check out http://www.skytel.com/ebay.nsf/default.htm.

If you receive an outbid notice while on the bus, in a meeting, or in class, you still won't have easy access to a computer to place another bid. In order to place bids on the go, you'll need Palm.Net.


How about more or less complete access to online auctions when you're away from your desktop or laptop? Owners of the Palm VII, VIIx, or Palm V, outfitted with an OmniSky wireless modem, can have just that.

How does it work? Palm users have access to Palm.Net, a wireless network. Users can't access every Web site out there, but they can access specific sites using special software called a Web Clipping Application. Sure enough, there's a clipping application for eBay, with which you can browse auctions, place bids, and check "my eBay." You can get more details and download the application from http://www.workspot.com/ebay/.

Palm.Net charges users based on the amount of data they transfer over the wireless network. Browsing auctions might be a great way to while away the time during a dull taxi ride, but downloading all that auction info can quickly use up one's monthly quota of "free" kilobytes. Palm.Net is available in many major U.S. cities, yet it is by no means ubiquitous. Full pricing and coverage information is available at www.palm.net.

By the way, if your Palm handheld doubles as a pager, you can use Palm.Net and eBay a-go-go together.

Amazon.com Anywhere

Not to be left out, Amazon.com offers wireless tools for PDA and cell phone users. Amazon.com Anywhere allows you to search auctions, check the status of auction items, and place bids. There's a clipping application for Palm users, and an HDML (Handheld Device Markup Languague) version of the site that is compatible with many Internet-enabled cell phones.

More information is available here.

Articles by Kevin Savetz