Facebook may be singlehandedly responsible for the most “happy birthday” wishes in history, and it previously had a program where real money was spent for virtual gifts, so it’s not a huge leap to their new program, Facebook Gifts. The program consists of an online store, run by Facebook, and a streamlined process to give gifts from that store to a Facebook friend. Based on the birthday sidebar alone, Facebook could sell millions of gifts and save thousands from embarassment.
The site, available currently at facebook.com/gifts, lets you choose a gift, attach a card, and a Facebook notification will be delivered immediately and the physical gift itself will arrive in a few days. Since not all Facebook profiles have an address attached, Facebook’s going to add that data to its hoard in order to send the gift. Gifts currently available range from the impersonal (gift cards) to world-famous cupcakes from the Magnolia Bakery in New York, although if your friend doesn’t like it, he or she can exchange it for something equivalent.
It’s an interesting program that doesn’t seem like a completely logical move from a company like Facebook. It puts them directly in competition with other online storefronts that sell products from a variety of suppliers, like Etsy. One reason is it could be a data grab: more addresses, more information on who cares about each other enough to send goods, or more information about the online commerce of gift cards and teddy bears. Regardless of why Facebook is offering gifts, on days like Mother’s Day, I could see millions of moms getting the same teddy bear from Facebook.