In a first-on-CNBC interview at the PayPal developer conference, eBay CEO John Donahoe said his company won't adopt Amazon's strategy of building and selling its own devices to boost digital sales.
Amazon sells its own Kindle e-reader to help boost sales of its digital book format; Amazon is also rumored to be considering the launch of its own app marketplace for Android devices.
Donahoe said eBay won't do that because it's committed to being a neutral player in the mobile space.
Donahoe also reiterated that he expects PayPal to be a bigger business than eBay before too long, because it is the dominant player in digital payments. A year ago at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference, Donahoe said it would take four to six years for that transition to happen; today he sounded a bit more bullish on PayPal than that.
When he and I chatted before our on-air interview, Donahoe told me that PayPal's mobile business in particular is growing far more quickly than he expected a year ago. A year ago, he said, he would have estimated that it would take PayPal mobile payments five years to go mainstream.
But thanks to the rapid adoption of smartphones and PayPal's nimble developer community, both consumers and merchants are embracing mobile payments far more quickly.
Mobile, of course, is still a small portion of PayPal's business. Donahoe said PayPal will process more than $500 million mobile transactions in 2010; that's less than 1% of the more than $80 billion in overall transactions PayPal will do this year. But it's growing rapidly. PayPal processed more mobile transactions in the first quarter of 2010 than it did in all of 2009.