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Posts Tagged ‘facebook credits’

Article from GigaOm.

“The American market for virtual goods will grow 31 percent to $2.1 billion in 2011, according to a new report from Inside Network. A huge driver of recent growth has been the social games sector, which “came out of nowhere” as co-author Charles Hudson put it. He said that virtual goods sold in social games are set to already account for 40 to 50 percent of the market, or at least $840 million in 2011, and that Facebook is responsible for “pretty much all of social.”

Many social game makers such the biggies – Zynga, CrowdStar, Playfish and Playdom – are transitioning to using Facebook’s Credits payments system, from which Facebook takes a 30 percent cut of all sales. Taking that rough math further, that means the social network stands to rake in $252 million in revenue from Facebook Credits for U.S. games next year. Facebook also has a second revenue stream from games from developers buying advertising on its site.

Hudson said that even with Facebook’s newly introduced tithing policy, game developers stand to benefit. As Facebook Credits are adopted, “The lift to conversion and monetization should offset the 30 percent,” he said.

What’s interesting about that market is that fewer than 5 percent of social game players ever buy anything, however, they account for the vast majority of the revenue from these free games. Virtual goods were worth $1.6 billion in the U.S. during 2010 and $1.1 billion in 2009, according to Inside Network. Hudson said that the Asian market for virtual goods is likely two-to-three times bigger.”

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From SF Gate.

“Facebook‘s latest move to add “where” to the list of personal information members share with the world gives the social networking firm yet another tool in its march to become the Internet’s most dominant destination.

And yet predictably, the new Facebook Places check-in feature has ignited a new round of debate over whether the Palo Alto firm is doing enough to safeguard its members’ privacy.

Facebook Places began rolling out Wednesday night to the company’s members in the United States with an upgraded application for the iPhone and iPod Touch that includes an icon that resembles a Google Maps location pin.

Launching the app lets members share their current location, which is automatically plotted by their phone’s GPS technology. They can tag Facebook friends who might also be there and use a “Here Now” function to see who else might be in the area. On Facebook.com, the Here Now map is powered by Google-rival Microsoft’s Bing Maps.

Tapping into trend

Places taps into the same social sharing game of “check-in” that has caused technology pundits to declare startups like Foursquare and Gowalla as part of the latest hot tech trend. This year, microblogging service Twitter also launched a location-tagging feature to its tweets and online recommendation service Yelp enabled check-ins on its mobile application.

But Facebook vice president Chris Cox said Places represents more than just a game, because it uses virtual technology to connect people in the real world. Over time, locations can accumulate stories and memories that later generations can access, Cox said.

San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, for example, could be tagged as the place “where your parents had their first kiss,” Cox said. “What starts to happen is the physical reality we’re in comes alive with the human stories that we’ve told there.”

Facebook worked with other location-based services to integrate their apps with Places.

“This basically validates that we’re on to something, that this will be something much, much bigger going forward,” Holger Luedorf, vice president of mobile and partnerships for Foursquare, said during a Facebook news conference.

But analysts say Facebook’s entry into the location-based services could blow the others out of the water because the social network has such a broad reach with mainstream audiences. Worldwide, Facebook has more than 500 million active members who span all age and marketing demographics. Foursquare, by comparison, has at least 3 million members and is growing quickly.

Working with Facebook may give companies like Foursquare “a little advantage, but the advantage is minimal and it’s not going to last very long,” said Susan Etlinger, a consultant with the Altimeter Group of San Mateo. “My Aunt Sue might not be on Yelp, but I know she’s on Facebook.”

Places also completes the public picture of members, who are already encouraged to share who they are, what they are doing and when. Facebook has become one of the Internet’s top destinations for finding news, viewing photos and watching video. And according to Internet researcher eMarketer, Facebook is on track to bring in $1.28 billion in online advertising in 2010, up from $835 million this year. The company is also developing its own virtual payment system, Facebook Credits.

Facebook officials sidestepped questions about how the firm plans to generate revenue from Facebook Places.

But analyst Augie Ray of Forrester Research Inc. said Places enters Facebook into the emerging mobile advertising space.

“There is no question that knowing where people are and what places they visit will be valuable data for Facebook and its advertisers,” Ray said. “It will permit Facebook to better understand individual’s likes and dislikes, not simply based on what buttons they click, but on their actual real-world behavior. And knowing where an individual is at a given moment will permit Facebook to serve better and more relevant ads based on user location.”

ACLU raises questions

But the San Francisco office of the American Civil Liberties Union immediately questioned whether Places has again left Facebook members open to privacy problems.

“Facebook made some changes to its regular privacy practices to protect sensitive location-based information, such as limiting the default visibility of check-ins on your feed to ‘Friends Only,’ ” the ACLU’s Nicole Ozer wrote in a blog post. “But it has failed to build in some other important privacy safeguards.”

In a sharply worded rebuttal, Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said Places “sets a new standard for user control and privacy protection for location information. We’re disappointed that ACLU’s Northern California office ignores this and seems to generally misunderstand how the service works.””

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