Thursday, February 5, 2009

eBay's Disruptive Innovation at Its Finest

A couple years ago, eBay created its "disruptive innovation" program, which ultimately resulted in John Donahoe becoming the CEO of the company and heading the company further along a disruptive path of innovation, or as I like to call it, destructive innovation. An AuctionBytes article from December 4, 2008 is quite prophetic. The article, eBay Replaces Community with Commodity, closes with the following statement:
In April, top eBay executives speaking at conferences said eBay was moving towards a more retail-like experience, and that "you will not recognize eBay this time next year." Truer words could not have been spoken, and once the holiday shopping season is over, we're likely to see more change.
EBay has been very busy during early 2009 in continuing its destructive innovation. On January 2o, eBay launched the new and improved My eBay, which loads slower, crashes many browsers, and is a bit difficult to customize and use.

A few weeks ago, I first heard that eBay planned to upgrade its message boards on February 3. I, along with many other users, suspected that the changes to the message boards would make them worse instead of better. EBay upgraded, or rather, destructively innovated, the message boards a little more than 24 hours ago. Yes, the message boards do have some new features which are improvements. The problem is that some of the other new features make the boards far less usable than they were before. Sound familiar? We just went through this a few weeks ago with My eBay.

All message comments now have the avatars of the users who post the messages. This is fine within each message thread, but it is problematic on the main page of each message board. The avatars cause the titles of the threads to be far apart and difficult to quickly scan. Add that to the fact that the pages now load slower and hang slightly, and it takes more time and effort to view the available topics.

EBay has defaulted each page of each message board to just fifteen posts. Each board has an advanced options tab in which the user can increase the number of posts to as many as 50. I did this earlier today, but later, the boards had defaulted back to 15 posts per page. It is not helpful when settings need to be changed repeatedly.

So far I am not impressed with the new message boards. The message boards were great because they were so easy to read. I am not certain whether I will be reading the message boards as much. Perhaps eBay wishes to destroy the message boards so that users will not have the ability to complain so much.

Now that eBay has begun to destroy its message boards, what will be changed next? No, wait; I already know. I'm sure we will all be defaulted into that horrible new eBay search called the "Playground" in which users are unable to find anything.

Change for the sake of change is never good.

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