Celebrating the 15th Anniversary of eBay’s Mobile App

There was, unbelievably, a time before apps.

On July 10, 2008, Apple opened the doors on a totally new kind of store. In one announcement, Apple enabled an entire ecosystem of apps, allowing for third-party developers to create applications specifically for iOS. As eBay was a launch partner for the historic launch of the App Store, it’s also the fifteenth anniversary of eBay’s app.

It would have been hard to imagine then how ubiquitous smartphones would become. Far from a fancy toy, they have become the primary way, and in many cases, the only way, that people around the world interact with the internet. But back in 2008, iOS development was in its infancy.

Today, tech companies like eBay have dedicated teams of developers for mobile platforms like iOS and Android. Back then, not so much; it’s hard to have teams for products that don’t yet exist. Apple wanted eBay to be ready for the spotlight at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in June, 2008, so they put us in touch with a custom software development shop in Portland, Oregon called Critical Path Software. They built the first eBay app in only five weeks — a monumental task, given that nobody was quite sure that people would even want to shop using a mobile device, or what such an experience would look like.

The eBay app was available in the new App Store when it opened in July, 2008. It was downloaded thousands of times per day within weeks, an astronomical number considering the iPhone was then a fresh young upstart attempting to take on BlackBerry, the leader in the space. That success was a clear signal that ecommerce would thrive on mobile platforms. On February 16, 2010, the same team released an eBay app for Android. By December 2010, eBay acquired Critical Path Software, recognizing their talent and the need for expert mobile developers.

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Today, over 200 developers, product managers and quality engineers work to continually improve and add exciting new features to the eBay and eBay Motors apps on both iOS and Android, in addition to dozens of engineers and other staff supporting the continuous integration pipeline and release operations. We release app updates every week, a task vital for the millions of active users who rely on the mobile app to grow their businesses, follow their passions and connect with their communities.

The native apps have since expanded to support video, 3D content, live streams and more. As an increasing amount of our business flows through these superpowered slabs of glass and metal, we will continue to provide the best shopping experience, with the widest variety of inventory, in a trustworthy marketplace — for this generation and those to follow.