X.commerce & Magento: Way to go for 21st century ecommerce?
15th October 5 Comments
These days, people who are involved with the OS ecommerce platform Magento one way or the other in have their eyes on the Innovate Conference in San Francisco. Since Magento has been bought by eBay some weeks ago, everybody seemed to have held their breaths regarding what the auction biggy wanted to do with the former OS ecom startup. A name that popped up every now and then was X.commerce, a platform that eBay wanted to build and present at this conference for the first time.
One result from this conference: X.commerce is not Magento. Rather, is is a kind of cloud-hosted service which allows to interconnect all kinds of different, ecommerce-related services, such as payment and logistics providers, different kinds of marketplaces – most notably eBay, of course! – and so on. As such, the X.commerce platform is free and open to all kinds of shop systems, so in theory someone could use this technology without bringing Magento or even eBay to the table. X.commerce fabric – which is its official name – can even be downloaded and run on one’s own server. In effect, developers using this platform are independent from both Magento and eBay and in theory could go their merry ways with completely different systems.
On Exciting Commerce (German) there has been a nice post/comment combination that sheds some lights on both sides of the coin. Jochen Krisch critises that eBay has yet again failed to present something really disruptive because no other important ecommerce player – from ATG to Demandware, from Hybris to Intershop – has been presented who joins the platform right from the start. He argues that when nobody could be found from the get-go, when should this happen at all? In his opinion, despite being an open platform, X.commerce will remain a siloed solution rather than an universal one shaping tomorrow’s ecommerce. As far as Magento itself is concerned, it has lost his independence way too early and internal processes take way to long, as the development of the much-anticipated Magento 2.0 show, which will supposedly see the light of day within a year’s time.
In reply to that, Matthias Zeis, a developer from Austria, who visited the conference, wrote a lenghty piece explaining his view on what was offered in San Francisco. In his opinion, Magento is clearly strengthened by the latest moves; its community version will continue to exist (although this has not been confirmed officially, which makes you wonder a little) and be considerably improved by its successor. As far as X.commerce is concerned, he stresses the fact its an open platform that can be used by everybody to attach the desired systems, be it a shop-software like the ones mentioned above or any other ecommerce-related service for that matter. Yet, also in his view, eBay’s focus is not so much providing a universal platform but rather supporting their own ecosystem.
As far as I’m concerned, what eBay offered with X.commerce is indeed a half-arsed solution: They continue their search for identity and allow a small division of their company to engage in a new-world-all-open-api-based project. What a chance has been missed: Imagine eBay re-inventing themselves into the ecommerce hub, getting rid of their wannabe-amazon-strategy and build a solution that connects everything to everything. eBay as the universal ecommerce transaction language, that would have been really something! But I guess overhauling such a company takes way too much balls for the people in control. If you needed a last hint for losing those eBay shares of yours – now it’s the time.
Magento will be the tool of choice to market X.commerce. For the system itself, not much changed. Being under the eBay umbrella now, developers’ salaries are more secure, the system continues to evolve to eventually become Magento 2. It could be gathered that a very important technical flaw – the EAV database structure – is kept and we won’t see much more than a decent amount of refactoring and integration tests to keep developers happy. By the way, those are the ones, according to the eBay logic, that will drive the development of X.commerce. What eBay and PayPal haven’t managed to do in all those years – build a thriving and growing developer community – is now the single most important reason to keep Magento alive. Now, eBay can tap into the inventiveness and enthusiasm of Magento’s followers to support their strategy.
Conclusion: The people already working in the eBay universe will have another toy to play with and add to their service portfolio. The people working with Magento have gained some more job security. The rest of the world still has the chance to make a really serious and sustainable dent into the face of global ecommerce.