Facebook Entering China As Game Developer

There were speculations earlier this week that Facebook could be entering the Chinese market soon via an M&A or a Joint Venture. It now appears that Facebook may be looking at China as more of a development center for the West rather than as a market opportunity.

A new report from Marbridge Consulting suggests that the world’s largest social networking site may be looking at establishing a gaming development center in China that will develop high quality games for the western market. It is being reported that Facebook makes very little from the sale of virtual goods from third party developers like Zynga who are behind the popular Facebook game, Farmville. By instituting their own social games, Facebook may be cashing in on the highly lucrative social gaming market.

Does that mean the 56,000 Chinese users in Facebook will remain friendless as always?

[via Marbridge Consulting]

Google To Patent Online Promotions Via Status Messages

Websites asking new users to “spread the word” by logging into their email accounts is not exactly new. Of late, it is not very uncommon to see the same thing happen with social networks. However, ‘The Mechanical Zoo’, the parent company of Aardvark – the social search engine that was recently acquired by Google has applied for a patent on the idea of viral ad campaigns via status messages.

In the application titled, “Online Word-of-Mouth Marketing of a Web Service Using Personalized Invitations via a Status Messaging Service“, the company has sought for rights on the concept whereby websites and web applications (like Farmville) that promote their service via the users’ status messages.

Here are a few screenshots of the idea that could now belong to Google.

Viral WOM campaign via status message

Status Message online ad campaign on Facebook

Viral WOM campaign via status message on Twitter

With applications like Farmville (and the thousands of Facebook apps) and Twitpic (and other Twitter apps) making use of similar features to promote their services via status messages, do you think such an idea is patentable?

Chinese Facebook Launching This Year

The world’s largest social networking service, Facebook is known to be contemplating a Chinese launch later this year. According to reports published on the Chinese publication, Global Times, the company may do so either via a joint venture or through a merger or acquisition.

Despite growing to over 400 million users, Facebook has been pretty invisible in mainland China with only close to 56,000 users in this country. However, the company has its task cut out. A majority of local players have been successful merely by copying the features from Facebook. By entering the market late, Facebook may have to struggle to survive among its own clones.

Facebook registered its .CN domain name back in 2007 and launched a Chinese version back in 2008. But ever since there has not been any significant effort to popularize the service in the country. It will be interesting to see how the world’s biggest social network manages to penetrate the great wall.

[via Global Times]

Slowdown Looms Large On Bloomberg?

When major publications resort to link-baiting tactics in search of increasing pageviews, then it is a sign that things are not too well. How else can you explain a recent article on the well-respected publication that slowdown looms large on Google when in fact such a thing didn’t exist much even when recession was in town?

Here are some quotes from the recent piece and justification for why Bloomberg isn’t doing well

“it has been leapfrogged by social network Facebook Inc. as the most popular U.S. Web site.”

It has been argued over the past week how misleading the conclusion from Hitwise’s study is. Hitwise claims Facebook has overtaken just the search engine part of Google. Not Gmail. Not Picasa. Not the several hundred properties that Facebook owns. Secondly, the average revenue per user on Google search is much higher than the casual Farmviller on Facebook. More reason why Hitwise’s study means nothing.

“Google’s sales increased 9 percent last year after almost doubling in 2005.”

Even the most cynical of analysts would agree that companies cannot continue their dream run growth percentages once they have grown big. Secondly, a 9% growth for a company that makes money via advertising in a recession is pretty impressive.

Facebook’s gains at Google’s expense weren’t lost on Levi Strauss & Co. The closely held maker of blue jeans and Dockers pants is advertising on Facebook this year for the first time, while its budget for search, Google’s mainstay, is staying about the same as last year,

It’s surprising Levi Strauss didn’t do it earlier. Do we have numbers on the people who search for blue jeans before making a purchase online?

Google’s ventures in mobile, video and display ads have failed to match the success of search

This might be the wrong time to call upon Youtube as a failure since we have just about started hearing that the world’s largest video sharing website could in fact turn profitable starting this year. Also, in mobile,  Google’s Android OS is seen as potentially the likely successor to the success of the iPhone and the Android marketplace is projected to overtake the App Store by the next year.

Here is the complete Bloomberg article. What do you make of it? Does it look like an article borne out of genuine concern? You decide!

Facebook Toolbar To Offer Social Networking On Third Party Websites

Facebook wants you to network and connect from anywhere and everywhere. A report on TechCrunch notes that the company is working on an AJAX based toolbar that will let third party developers to bring social networking features into their websites.

Like the popular Meebo bar, Facebook’s toolbar will reside at the bottom of the page and will let users to share, like pages that they visit and also allow chat with friends from third party websites.

What’s the point? TechCrunch writes that Facebook wants to expand to all websites thereby making it ubiquitous. Plus, the company could also plan on monetizing these toolbars with ads though that is unlikely to come during launch.

I would just hate cluttering the site with the toolbar. It could also make the site clunky. But if Facebook toolbar’s the order of the day, everyone of us might be moving towards that.

[via TechCrunch]

Facebook Insights Taking On Google Analytics

As part of its Open Graph API project, Facebook is learnt to be developing an Insights product that can serve as a handy analytics tool for developers. This could be the next big area where Facebook could be taking on Google which is pretty popular with its Analytics tool.

To use this, developers will need an API key. With an API key, various events may be tracked with basic API calls. AllFacebook quotes an instance of the API call

api_key: ‘YOUR_API_KEY’,
} );

Using the Facebook Insights feature, developers will be able to track virtually all activities of users including simple events such as ‘Like’ a message or other robust activities on their website.

There is not enough information on whether Facebook is building a platform similar to Google Analytics for developers to visit and track their visitor activities. However, that seems to be a very likely proposition.

[via AllFacebook]

Bing Quick Tabs To Help Organizing Search Results Easier

Microsoft has revealed some upcoming upgrades on its Bing Search engine at the Search Engine Strategies forum in NYC recently. These upgrades are aimed at making the website a better “decision engine” – a phrase that Microsoft coined to help them be number one in an industry heavily dominated by Google.

One of the important features that will make its way to the Bing search results is Quick Tab. This will assort search results into several categories for easier perusal. Also with agreements with Twitter and Facebook in place, Microsoft hopes to bring a real time touch to its results. VentureBeat writes,

“A search on Boston, for example, provides upfront information on weather, attractions and flight deals. Recently signed deals with Twitter and Facebook, help to put more real-time information within search results. And, finally, a map integrated with Foursquare is available that when activated shows local check-in locations and their “mayors” — users who are most active at any one location.”

We wonder if such a classification would work for the several long tail keywords that people search for in a variety of categories.

[via VentureBeat]

Facebook Revenues To Cross $1 Billion In 2010

Inside Facebook has made some really detailed calculations over what Facebook could have earned in the past one year and how much the company could be making moving ahead.

According to these observations, the world’s biggest social network could have made close to $700 million that can expect to grow to $1.1 billion through this year.

A majority of the revenues in the past year has, as expected, come from brand advertising and performance advertising – nearly $575 million. The rest of the share is made from sale of virtual goods and through its deal with Microsoft.

However, as you would know, Facebook is working on a payment gateway and if it launches this year, we may expect a huge turnaround in the amount of money made from virtual goods. It can in fact be the main revenue driver for the company.

What do you think?

[via Inside Facebook]

Social Gmail Not Just About Sharing Status Messages

Google is likely to make an announcement regarding “social services” in a few hours. The blogosphere is already abuzz with rumors about Gmail, by letting people share links and messages can be a Twitter killer.

If the rumors doing the rounds are to be believed, it would simply mean assorting all the GTalk status messages from users and displaying it the way Twitter displays tweets. While this can be something powerful, it is definitely something that Google would buzz about before making a launch.

So, what could be expected in today’s launch? Our assumption is that it could be much more. The Gmail window serves an important function of delivering the latest emails; something that is too important to many users to be tinkered around with status messages. What we see is an aggregation of the users’ social network activities – including Facebook, Twitter, Orkut as well as messages from Gmail on to one platform. The simplest place to begin would be iGoogle which is already the users’ customized homepage which could now be the one-stop to aggregate all of the users activities.

As should be obvious, it is entirely speculation and our own take on what could be coming. What are your views on this?

Farmville Users To Get ‘Pay By Facebook’ Option This Week

Users of the hugely popular social game on Facebook, Farmville can expect the ‘Pay By Facebook‘ option to be rolled out sometime this week. The Business Insider reveals that Facebook’s payment gateway integration is so close to being implemented on Farmville that it could have been introduced last week itself.

The payment gateway is expected to be a huge money-spinner for Facebook, the world’s most popular social network that is now inching towards the 400 million registered users mark. However, despite the huge popularity of its application platform, the website itself had only been making money from advertising which did not contribute to much, considering the major part of revenues from gaming were to be made from purchase of virtual goods.

Facebook is expected to charge a 30% commission on transactions over its payment gateway. Despite this high charge, it is believed that developers would be willing to opt in considering the “Facebook stamp”. The Business Insider also notes that gaming app developers like Zynga believe a payment gateway from Facebook will in fact encourage more users to spend money, thus increasing overall revenues from the gaming apps.

[via Business Insider]