eBay Diversifies With Where.com, But is Hyperlocal Really the Future?

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With today’s estimated $135 million acquisition of Where.com – the hyperlocal media company that will soon offer deals based on user geotargeting – eBay not only adds another channel to its growing number of revenue streams, but also plants its foot firmly in the growing world of offline commerce.

Under eBay’s PayPal arm, Boston-based Where will continue to function as its own entity while likely integrating PayPal’s e-payment mechanism to purchase deals. eBay’s earlier acquisition of local product-finder Milo further reflects the online mega-seller’s strategic refocusing, which has already been implemented under eBay Garden.

Where’s services allow its users to discover local businesses like bars, restaurants, musems and more under a hyperlocal ad network of 50 million users. The important distinction between the deal-hunting capabilities of Where as opposed to something like Groupon is that the former helps users find deals based on proximity, rather than daily flash sales. (A trend that – as indicated on TIME.com’s money blog – may already be on the decline… It’s important to note that Where utilizes daily deals, too.)

Since the announcement this morning, eBay’s stocks are up 1.70%, but the acquisition also comes at the same time as a report accusing Apple of secretly harvesting location data without user consent, calling into question the value of a mobile user’s privacy, or if such a thing really even exists.

In partnering with Where, eBay will likely be looking to collect opt-in data to sell to marketers and advertisers. The question for individual consumers is thus: “Will I allow my location to be tracked in order to find a deal?”

Personally? Yeah, I would, and my gut feeling tells me that soon – even in view of Apple’s recent snooping scandal – most other mobile users with nothing to hide won’t mind having their daily activities mapped out by GPS either (as long as they’re made aware, that is). Four million Where users already seem to agree (to say nothing of all the Foursquare people). But again, that’s just my gut.

How about you?

(via Tech Crunch)

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