Wednesday, July 21, 2010

No, I'm not cornering the Zuckerberg market

I was still musing over #firstworldproblems (stay tuned for a future post on the topic of African purchasing, possibly next week) when I first saw the ReadWriteWeb post on Facebook credits. Basically, Chris Birk was claiming:

In all, international users comprise about 70% of Facebook's total user base, but the company has so far lacked a consistent mechanism for turning those more far-flung users into dollars. Banner advertising in most cases doesn't provide a worthwhile return on investment internationally. At the same time, bandwidth costs have forced the company to take a loss in hyper-growth countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Enter the power and mind-boggling reach of Facebook Credits. As Chris Morrison at Bnet and others have pointed out, the full-scale credits program will clearly lower the adoption barrier for millions of international users, who will be able to buy credits from a single point of purchase and spend them on games and apps across the network. Facebook earns a 30% cut of the revenue; there's going to be a lot of that.

My first thought was, "Yeah, right. People in the middle of India are going to spend time tending virtual farms. Or people in real war zones are going to play Mafia Wars." But I didn't really feel like writing a "this is B.S." post, so I went to bed.

Then Jake Kuramoto saw the post and thought it made "a ton of sense."

And I thought about the passage above, and thought that maybe the numbers might add up to something significant for Facebook after all.

Now I thought that PayPal was supposed to be the virtual universal currency, but that hasn't really happened. Is there a better chance that using Facebook credits (Zuckerbergs) for purchases might truly be universal?

But then if Facebook credits becomes significant, will we see Google credits? Microsoft credits? Apple credits? And will someone set up a currency exchange between these virtual currencies? Imagine how the blogosphere would erupt if the Jobs fell against the Gates one day...
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