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Swoopo - Entertainment or Gambling?

Updated on October 28, 2009

If you like eBay, you might be frustrated by what's going on here.

Is it entertainment or gambling? Swoopo provides an "Entertainment Shopping" approach to online auctions. Similar to the model used by BidCactus and RockyBid, this is not your father's eBay. Buckle in for combination of bidding, gambling, and entertainment.

A few of the items up for auction as
A few of the items up for auction as
Bring a friend, get free bids
Bring a friend, get free bids

Pay to Play

Swoopo won't let you simply register and begin bidding. This entertainment costs money. Unlike the eBay model, which requires only a credit card and a willingness to bid on goofy stuff, Swoopo charges 75 cents per bid. Your account is free, but you can't bid on anything until you purchase some bid credits. Packages of bids start at 30 bids ($22.50) and go as high as 700 ($525). Nor is there any goofy stuff to bid on.

It's all New

Only new items are up for bids on Swoopo. An unseen hand drives the the items that actually get listed for auction. Game systems and related equipment seem to dominate. Listed on the home page are several popular commercial items offered as candidates for upcoming auctions. When we last looked, the list included Sony, Nintendo, Apple, and Samsung. An one ounce gold bar was also up for bid.

Bidding Starts at Almost Nothing

Each bid increases the current value of the product by a tiny amount and adds a few seconds to the auction. Unlike eBay, it's futile to try to lock up an item by bidding up the price. Since you're paying 75 cents a bid, it pays to bid judiciously. No bid history is available so you don't know if you're bidding against 1 person or the population of China.

Swoopo offers a "BidButler" utility that does the work for you. After setting a bid limit, you can walk away and let the bot do its' thing. Seems to take all the fun out of it, but perhaps you have better things to do?

The Life Span of an Auction

Unlike eBay, all the auctions appear to have a relatively brief life span; about 3 hours or less. Each auction item has a countdown timer linked to it. looking at a page stuffed with timers, each updating once a second, the tension is palpable. It's also tedious if you're watching 8 auctions that don't end for 3 hours. The auctions are not in synch, so there's always something about to expire; that's when the excitement truly begins.

You are Somewhat Limited

Swoopo imposes limits on what you can win. Over a 28 day period, 4 weeks, you can bid on items from preset categories and you can only win 1 or 2 items from some of those categories. On the other hand, some categories are unlimited. The categories are color-coded but how they apply to the current auction items is not immediately evident.

What's up for Sale?

When we visited the site many items were up for bids. Several of those items were Swoopo bid packages. Some of the remaining items were:

  1. Sony Vaio Laptop, bid up to $35.90 with 8 minutes remaining

  2. Kenneth Cole Reaction Glisten to Me Tote, bid up to $8 with time expiring

  3. Samsung 40 inch 1080p TV, bid up to $187 with 8 minutes remaining

  4. Pentax K20D 14.6MP DSLR Camera with 18-55mm Lens, bid up to $19.38 with 57 minutes remaining

Are you Interested?

Swoopo describes itself as "Entertainment Shopping". That's hard to dispute, if the element of chance entertains you. The GUI does engage, however briefly. An auction of a sort does take place. Short of slipping in the last bid before an auction closes, no strategy for locking up an item exists. At least an online poker game offers calculable odds. In this world you have to be prepared to empty your wallet each time you begin bidding.


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