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After losing China bid, eBay’s going, gone

Lisa Napoli Dec 19, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: There was more evidence today doing business in China just isn’t the same as setting up shop back home. The Wall Street Journal reports eBay’s had a change of heart. The online auctioneer’s going to scrap its Beijing brand and throw in with a Chinese company. Marketplace’s Lisa Napoli looks at why American high-tech giants are getting lost in translation:

LISA NAPOLI: You’d think a mega-successful brand like eBay would have no trouble doing business anywhere. But Vauhina Vara of the Wall Street Journal says you’d be wrong.

She says the culture’s not ripe yet for online auctions.

VAUHINA VARA: Internet penetration is still somewhat low compared to the penetration rate in the U.S. And the people are more likely to use the Internet in places like Interent cafes, so they’re less likely to log on for long periods of time. It’s also still primarily a cash-based economy.

And China’s growing middle class is just learning to embrace the idea of buying things online.

Other tech companies are having trouble, too. Google’s getting its typically Teflon socks knocked off in China. Locally based rival Baidu dominates the search market. And Yahoo’s been trying to jumpstart its faltering efforts with a billion dollar local investment.

Patty Freeman Evans of Jupiter Research says welcome to the world of the emerging market.

PATTY FREEMAN EVANS: It is a big market. It has a huge opportunity. But it’s not an easy opportunity to bring to fruition.

eBay’s going to keep trying, instead of giving up — the way it did in Japan a few years ago.

It’ll reportedly invest $40 million on its China revamp — and add employees.

In Los Angeles, I’m Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.

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