I’ve never been one for hopping any bandwagon that trundles by, but every once in awhile a new product is released that looks so sexy, even I think it might pay to be an early adopter. The iPhone by Apple is just one of those products. It’s sleek, it’s suave, it has a killer software in the Mac OS X operating system and like most Apple products, it has a very appealing design aesthetic.
The folks at Apple definitely know how to build hype for their products as well. For the first 30 days after the iPhone’s debut on June 29th, 2007, the phone will only be available at retail from Apple itself and AT&T. After 30 days have passed, the floodgates open. Knowing that eBay sellers often ignore such niceties as official release dates and limited licensing agreements, I decided it would be fun to peruse the Apple iPhone auctions currently being offered on Ebay. I just wanted to see what the Powersellers were up to and how they were taking advantage of the marketing frenzy over this new phone.
I have to give kudos to eBay for being remarkably diligent in removing presale auctions for the iPhone itself . While I was searching on the auction site, there was only one auction for the actual cellphone, and that disappeared during the three minutes I spent reading another auction that caught my eye: an auction was ending shortly for an iPhone-related Yahoo email address. That’s right, someone created a new email address at Yahoo and sold it on Ebay. When I first looked at the auction, there was an hour left in the bidding and at that point there were six bids with a high bid of just over $15.00. By the time the auction ended an hour later, the bidding had closed with over 40 bids and a winning bid of over $400. What kind of crazy person bids $400 for an email address when anyone can go and create an address for free at Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail? It makes no sense to me at all.
The kicker to this story is that according to Yahoo’s terms of service, it isn’t even legal to sell one of their email addresses. Their TOS states:
12. NO RESALE OF SERVICE You agree not to reproduce, duplicate, copy, sell, trade, resell or exploit for any commercial purposes, any portion of the Service (including your Yahoo! ID), use of the Service, or access to the Service.
The other free services, Gmail and Hotmail, etc., all essentially say the same thing. This hasn’t stopped the eBay entrepreneurs however. There are dozens of iPhone-related email addresses from the free email providers currently for sale at Ebay. What a crazy world online world we’ve created.