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Google, eBay execs make mobile commerce pitches

There's lots of behind-the-scenes development in using mobile tech to bridge the gap between online and offline commerce, as two industry execs hinted during talks at this week's Web 2.0 Expo.

The future of commerce in the mobile age is on the minds of execs at Web 2.0 this week. Elinor Mills/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO--There will be quite the land grab ahead as mobile trends continue to make their way into the e-commerce world. Or at least that's what it seems based on two short talks at this week's Web 2.0 Expo about the future of commerce, one yesterday afternoon from Google vice president of payments Osama Bedier, and one this morning from eBay vice president of global product management Dane Glasgow.

"Shoppers don't distinguish between online and mobile. They think of mobile as an extension of their everyday activities," Glasgow said. "Mobile's clearly having an impact on e-commerce."

That's been a big eBay talking point of late.

Glasgow's presentation was primarily to emphasize eBay's dual focus on mobile and local shopping, like the bar code-scanning technology it built into its mobile apps after acquiring start-up RedLaser and the local shopping search features brought on board by its purchase of He unveiled a new eBay feature in which searches for products on both the Web site and mobile apps can sort results based on what's physically close by, and a way for small businesses to use Milo's technology to index their products on eBay, offering them a new window into e-commerce.

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Bedier's talk was more speculative, envisioning a world in which the mobile device makes it possible for anything to be paid for just about anywhere. "All of my cards, whether they're credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, private label cards, they all need to move into the cloud, they all need to move digital, and they need to be available to me in any store that I want to use them (in)," said Bedier--who actually had been a longtime executive at the eBay-owned PayPal before leaving for Google earlier this year. "(It's) my choice, not what the merchant wants to accept, and things like currency and geography shouldn't stand in the way."

But there was a common theme: a curious intersection of themes with regard to making the mobile phone the centerpiece of both online and offline commerce, and that somehow leading to an experience that places an emphasis on the physical and personal. Bedier said that sweeping changes in commerce will lead to "people knowing what your preferences are, feeling local, remembering things" in the consumer experience. Glasgow said that eBay's new updates, thanks to the integration of RedLaser and Milo, will make it possible to bridge the divide between online and offline retail.

Bedier didn't seem to want to give specifics about what Google's up to in this space, but it probably has a close eye on that online-offline divide, too.