Facebook, which has been testing giving its Gifts application more prominence on friends’ profiles before their birthdays recently, has just launched another new Gifts feature: scheduled birthday gifts.
With scheduled gifts, you can buy Facebook gifts for your friends whose birthdays are coming up ahead of time – but Facebook won’t actually “deliver” the gift to your friend’s wall until their actual birthday.
Interestingly, however, other friends will be able to see that you are giving a birthday gift before the recipient’s birthday – perhaps a move by Facebook to subtly increase the social pressure on others to give a Facebook Gift as well.
Virtual gifts are an increasingly important revenue stream for Facebook. After doing an estimated $30-40 million in virtual gifts last year, the company changed its currency system from dollars to virtual credits in November. Given all the work the company has done to push birthday virtual gift giving, Facebook’s virtual gifts revenues should substantially increase this year.
Several Facebook application developers are focued on the birthday gifting market as well, including SocialCalendar (in depth profile), with over 2 million monthly active users, and Birthday Calendar, which sports over 10 million monthly active users.