eBay and Google this week demonstrated a new digital concierge service for Google Home called ShopBot, which is capable of telling users how much various items in their possession may be worth.
The companies conducted the demonstration featuring RJ Pittman, eBay's chief product officer, at Google's Next Conference in San Francisco. Pittman requested to talk to eBay, and ShopBot responded via the Google Home speaker "Hi, I'm eBay. I'm the world's price guide. You can ask me what something is worth," according to CNET.
Pittman asked how much his camera was worth, and after providing details about the brand, model and whether or not the camera was new or used, ShopBot told him an estimated value for it. The companies did not specify any commercial rollout plans for ShopBot item appraisal.
This demonstration comes after eBay initially launched a beta version of ShopBot for Facebook Messenger last fall. At that time, eBay made the interesting choice to expose consumers to a not-ready-for-primetime version of its new chatbot with the intention of encouraging consumers to interact with ShopBot to help it learn and perfect its skills.
The item appraisal demonstration this week seems less a direct result of that beta rollout than a potential application or function for ShopBot, something the fully-educated ShopBot might do for consumers once it's formally released. When that release might happen is anyone's guess. Since the beta launch, eBay has not come forth with any new versions of the bot, or announcements about it until now. Soooo, for the moment, this seems more like an interesting stunt to whet user appetites for what ShopBot might do on a regular basis at some point in the future.
Theoretically, as an app, random item appraisal could be very helpful for eBay and the people who use it most, helping users make more informed decisions about whether or not they want to sell or buy something, and what the fair price might be. How ShopBot arrives at its assessed value is not entirely clear — yes, it considers brand, model, age, condition, etc., but does it consult some sort of Blue Book for assorted stuff, or is it trying to be that Blue Book for assorted stuff?
Beyond all these questions, the Google Home integration is, without question, a significant step for eBay and ShopBot. Provided this is more than just a stunt and evolves into a widely available aspect of Google Home, eBay should be able to leverage ShopBot partnerships with Facebook and Google into substantial market exposure and impact for ShopBot. Now, eBay just needs to decide if ShopBot is ready for that.