Facebook extends Gifts platform to iOS in US, Europe expected in 2013
Following the successful launch of its Gifts commerce platform on Android and the desktop, Facebook is expanding the service to devices running Apple's iOS. Facebook Gifts lets users purchase and send real-world items to their social network contacts.
Built on top of Karma, the mobile gifting platform acquired by Facebook in May, Gifts uses birthday reminders and timeline events like engagement and wedding announcements to prompt users to purchase presents from more than 100 retail partners including Starbucks, 1-800-Flowers, Gund and Magnolia Bakery. All items are recommended based on the recipient's Facebook profile and billed to a new or existing credit card saved to the sender's Facebook account.
Facebook Gifts – currently limited to iOS device owners in the US, but expected to spread worldwide in 2013 – represents the social network's latest move to monetize its mobile platform. Facebook has declined to divulge how much revenue it claims on each Gifts transaction, explaining the terms vary by product and partner.
The new Facebook for iOS 5.1 also boasts new Messenger features enabling users to swipe left anywhere in the app to immediately identify which of their friends are available and send them a message. Consumers may also add friends they message most to the top of their Favorites. Facebook for iOS 5.1 also enhances Camera functionality with the addition of a new upload flow allowing users to share multiple photos faster.
Facebook now touts more than 1 billion users, with roughly 600 million accessing its services via mobile. Many critics question whether Facebook can successfully monetize its mobile efforts, but investors were encouraged by the company's recent third-quarter earnings report, which revealed that mobile now generates 14 percent of its total advertising revenues.