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EBay Inc., the largest online retail marketplace, is introducing a technology that lets people browse and try on sunglasses using an Apple Inc. iPhone, as it seeks to mimic the real-world shopping experience.
The so-called augmented-reality feature is part of EBay’s fashion application, Steve Yankovich, vice president of the company’s mobile unit, said in an interview last week. The app will be available in December, he said.
EBay is using handset-friendly tools to benefit from rising demand for mobile commerce, an area of retailing where Colin Gillis, an analyst at New York-based BGC Partners LP, says it established an early lead. The company has said its apps will generate as much as $2 billion in volume this year. Worldwide, there will be about 150 million to 200 million mobile augmented -reality users by 2012, from about 600,000 last year, according to Perey Research & Consulting in Montreux, Switzerland.
Ikea introduced an app on the iPhone earlier this year that lets people see how the retailer’s furniture would fit in their homes. Companies such as Lego A/S, Europe’s biggest toymaker, have store kiosks through which shoppers may hold up a box and see what the Legos will look like assembled.
As technological hurdles fall and companies start synchronizing their online and mobile business strategies, more retailers may introduce augmented reality-style apps, said Rob Gonda, global lead of creative technology at SapientNitro, a Boston-based marketing firm.
By Joseph Galante