eBay Launches Kijiji, Challenging Craigslist

eBay has launched of an international classified ads Web site called Kijiji, which the company says means “village” in Swahili.

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Kijiji is available for 50 cities in Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan. Oddly, Kijiji doesn’t support any cities in which Swahili is widely spoken; perhaps those Web sites are on the way.

My first thought when visiting the Web site was that eBay is trying to beat Craigslist to the world. I realize that eBay owns a piece of Craigslist, but not a majority interest. Meanwhile, Craigslist has been steadily launching sites for a number of international cities, from Bangkok to Montreal. However, Craigslist has to this point only launched English-language Web sites, which renders many of these international sites largely useless to the majority of the population. I’m also told that the categories have not been localized either, rendering them not only useless but downright silly.

eBay has the language skills in place to do international classified ads and it will be interesting to see if the Web sites generate the type of enthusiastic traffic that Craigslist has achieved.

Kijiji also creates an interesting dynamic in some markets. Consider Montreal. If you speak English, you have Craigslist; if you speak French, you have Kijiji.

One final thought: With Kijiji, eBay has officially re-entered Japan. eBay gave up on Japan a few years back, ceding the market to Yahoo! I’m glad to see eBay taking another crack at the market; it is simply too big to ignore.

Update: Here is a Reuters article on the launch.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.