Poor newspapers. Their cash cow service, classified ads, is probably about to break a record for facing more competition from free services than any other in the history of paid services. Faceboook recently piled on to the Craigslist disruption of the newspaper classified market with a free classifieds marketplace. Now eBay has launched a free classified site call Kijiji in 220 U.S. cities:
Kijiji, a site eBay has operated overseas for two years, is now available in about 220 cities across the United States, spokesman Hani Durzy, said Tuesday.
“We’re targeting young people and young families looking for bargains locally,” Durzy said. “For now it’s a free service and our focus is on building the user experience.”
So how much additional havoc will Kijiji wreak on the newspaper classified business? All the talk around the announcement is about Kijiji competing with Craigslist, rather than newspapers, since a free product vs. paid product is a less interesting competition (such as it is).
EBay knows a thing or two about connecting buyers and sellers online. And it so happens that eBay has had a seat on the board of Craigslist since eBay bought a 25 percent stake in 2004.
So far, there aren’t many ads on Kijiji — but I’m sure many newspaper classified advertisers (particularly those fond of eBay) will discover it soon enough.