iTunes may have just taken a massive blow at iLike today with the launch of a “share on Facebook” feature which will enable users to post iTunes songs to their profile. While there are few details about the new feature, there is the potential that actual song samples will eventually be posted to your Facebook feed. Such a move would be a direct attack on iLike who began offering a similar service since Facebook first opened up the stream. While the new “Share on Facebook” feature is extremely valuable, of more interest was a statement by Apple about the number of credit card enabled accounts.
Steve Jobs stated, “We’ve recently crossed 100m accounts – all with credit cards and one-click purchases.” It was a quick statement but the real question is why would they want to disclose this information? Facebook currently has around 250 – 275 million users and only recently began accepting international payments which means that the total number of registered users that have entered their credit card numbers is probably well below 100 million.
While Facebook has yet to publicly state the total number of users that have entered their credit card information on the site, there have been public estimates on the total revenue being generated by Facebook through virtual goods. If those estimates were accurate, Facebook could now be doing upwards of $100 million a year in digital gifts. If we assumed that the average user who has purchased gifts in a year has purchase multiple gifts, we could estimate that Facebook has somewhere between 20 – 50 million users’ credit card information.
There has been ongoing speculation that Apple is preparing to offer their own one-touch payment offering to app developers. If true, this would compete significantly with Facebook to be the future leader of micro-transactions. For now this is nothing but speculation, however over the coming weeks and months, more information will be shared by Facebook about their plans, and I’d expect the same from Apple.
For now we’ll have to wait and see. Rather than using both company’s payment platforms to buy virtual goods, we’ll instead use iTunes to share music to our Facebook profile. While not related, it shows the complex relationship between the two companies which may continue to face increasing competition from each other over the coming years.
I’ve tested out the new iTunes and the functionality isn’t that great for sharing to Facebook. Instead of using Facebook Connect, iTunes has simply made a link to enable users to share a song with Facebook, including an album title, album image, and short description. No music samples are provided. Apple could have done a much better job by leveraging Facebook Connect integration.