One of the biggest drivers of Facebook's success has arguably been the rise of social gaming.
From Mafia Wars to Farmville, Facebook's platform has become a virtual gaming console of sorts for millions upon millions of consumers, creating a multi-billion dollar virtual currency opportunity for Facebook that it's exploiting with Facebook Credits.
Amazon has launched an in-app purchasing API for its Android Appstore that uses its 1-Click payment system.
The API has already been installed on Kindle Fire apps from Disney, The Wall Street Journal and New York Post offering users a fast, convenient method of paying for virtual currency and subscriptions.
Amazon frequently scores highly in consumer surveys and the recent eChannel Retail Benchmark from eDigital found that its checkout process scored joint first with Asda for usability.
It's going to be a big week for Rovio, which has become one of the world's most valuable gaming companies thanks to its ultra-popular Angry Birds franchise. On Thursday, the latest Angry Birds game, Angry Birds Space, will make its way to app stores around the internet.
But for players looking to maximize their Angry Birds Space experience, a trip to the local Walmart may be in order.
Yesterday's announcement that it is effectively becoming a platform may be the most important yet in the short history of social gaming juggernaut Zynga.
Although it's a billion dollar company, Zynga owes much of its success to another platform - Facebook.
In the run-up to the Facebook IPO, some observers are casting a skeptical eye towards the social network's advertising business. Ads, not surprisingly, account for much of the company's revenue, and there are certainly some areas of concern.
But if two lawyers have their way, Facebook's virtual currency business, which many believe is also crucial to the company's future, could be facing major challenges.
With Juniper predicting that mobile in-game purchasing will hit $4.8bn by 2016, this is a market that brands can’t afford to ignore.
But can companies take a share of the virtual currency revenue, or are they restricted to using it as an opportunity to promote their brand through sponsorship and ads?
The opportunity is muddied further by the dilemma of whether to charge per download or follow the freemium model and rely on in-game purchasing for monetisation.
Virtual currency has fast become a multi-billion dollar industry. It's
the juice that could propel Facebook to great IPO heights, and has already served as the foundation for other billion-dollar businesses,
like social gaming giant Zynga.
In fact, a study released yesterday from Juniper Research predicts that the amount of money being spent on virtual currency in mobile apps is going to more than double in the next four years, going from $2.1bn last year to $4.8bn by 2016.
The holidays are right around the corner and retailers big and small are already gearing up for what they hope will be a successful season, even if at the same time knowing that it will likely be a challenging one too.
When looking at holiday shopping, we typically look at sales of physical goods. Which makes sense given that historically, gift-giving has been an offline activity.
With digital goods growing in prominence, it's increasingly clear that holiday shopping is not limited to buying goods you can put under a tree.
The market for digital goods and virtual currency on its site is already
a billion-dollar one, but up until now, Facebook is capturing only a
fraction of the business.
The reason: it gives developers great freedom
to monetize their applications using whatever business models and
third-party services they think work best.
But that will be coming to an end this July as the world's largest social network looks to further boost its revenue growth.
Thanks to the rise of massive social networks, namely Facebook, and a
multi-billion dollar virtual currency market, social gaming has become
one of the hottest spaces on the consumer internet.
But there's another reason social gaming is so hot: it is putting the
'casual' back into the concept of 'casual gaming'. Through social games
like Farmville and Mafia Wars, millions upon millions of non-gamers
have become gamers. In the process, social games are potentially
reshaping the gaming industry more broadly.