Marking Facebook’s latest ploy to turn popularity into profit, the social network is rolling out a gift-giving feature with which users can buy and send items to “friends.”
“The gift service … will have hundreds of options with more added daily from partners such as Starbucks Corp. and 1-800-Flowers.com Inc.,” Bloomberg reports. “Facebook, which acquired gift-giving application Karma earlier this year, will share an undisclosed percentage of the revenue with partners.”
“It’s a major undertaking for Facebook, tackling an entire new segment of online commerce and adding a brand new revenue stream to its business,” AllThingsD writes. “Perhaps more significant … the entire Gifts program is accessible on mobile phones.”
“With Facebook continuing to struggle to impress Wall Street investors, another revenue stream can't hurt,” suggests the Los Angeles Times.
“The move edges the social network onto the turf of e-commerce king Amazon, but at an opportune time,” according to Wired.com. “Amazon is busy making movies, computer hardware, cloud computing services, and entering other markets far afield from its core business of selling physical goods.”
Yet, as critics note, Facebook’s new service is no Amazon. On a laundry list of reasons why Facebook Gifts isn’t so hot, Forbes’ Robert Hof wishes it offered a “much wider variety of products, ideally informed by my friends’ interests and organized better.”
Meanwhile, as Mashable recalls, this isn’t Facebook’s first foray into gifting. “Facebook closed its ‘Gift Shop’ in August 2010, in favor of focusing on Photos, News Feed, Inbox, games, comments, the Like button and the Wall.” Unlike the last service, which specialized in virtual fare, the new Facebook Gifts is devoted to real products.
Making the process even simpler for users, “Facebook said users can pay right away or add payment details later,” PCMag reports. “The recipient will provide their shipping address of choice, and also select the desired color, size, or flavor.”