Posted August 21, 2009 3:06 pm by with 3 comments

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My gift to my husband is only a picture, but soon I might be able to send him a real one through FacebookWe’ve all seen Facebook’s virtual gift shop: for little to no money, you can send a friend a “gift”—an image to display on his/her profile. Though it often features deals and promotions with other brands, the gift shop app is owned and run by Facebook. But now the gift shop will be testing with developers and physical and virtual goods.

(Note: the physical and virtual goods are for sale, the developers are not.)

This move builds on Facebook’s currently-in-testing payments system. As Facebook confirmed to Inside Facebook, they’re currently testing the changes, which went live for a limited number of users Wednesday night. Four developers are participating in the test: American Greetings Interactive, GreetBeatz, Someecards, and Real Gifts.

Inside Facebook explains that developer gifts will run alongside regular virtual gifts in the gift shop, although developer gifts will carry the developer’s logo/icon. The price will usually be 10 Facebook credits ($1 US), just like the most of the rest of the virtual gifts.
gift shop with logos for developers and real gifts

Pricing for physical goods will be a bit different, but will include shipping:

[P]hysical gifts – for instance, say a dozen roses – might cost up to 500 Facebook Credits, or USD $50. When users select a physical gift, they’ll be prompted to enter the delivery address in line, just like in a traditional shopping cart experience.

real gift checkout with delivery address
Suddenly this reminds me of an April Fool’s Joke from Facebook in 2007—where Facebook offered to dispatch someone to poke your friends in person.

Inside Facebook has some great analysis of this move:

Between the Gift Shop and payment service for developers, Facebook is in the unique position to build a robust commerce business and simultaneously create powerful new monetization opportunities for developers. And because all items in the Facebook Gift Shop are purchased with Facebook Credits, a growing gifts business expands the footprint of Facebook’s virtual currency, which is also used in Facebook’s application payments service.

What do you think? Will users like the new goods? Will this help to entrench the Facebook payment system and currency?