Amazon is looking to move in on Facebook's gifting turf with a new product that lets friends crowdsource each other's gifts using the power of the social network's graph.
Amazon has just announced Amazon Birthday Gift, a "new way for customers to surprise friends on their birthdays by joining together to send Amazon.com Gift Cards with birthday messages on Facebook."
It's pretty simple, really. Let's say that you want to send an Amazon gift card to your buddy Phil for his birthday in a week. Simply head on over to the Amazon Birthday Gift page, create a new gift card, and select your amount. You can start the card with $1, $5, $10 or $25. Then, designate your Facebook friend recipient and write a birthday message. Then, invite friends (via Facebook) to contribute on the gift card. With any luck, you and your friends run up the pot enough to have a substantial amount waiting for Phil when his birthday actually arrives.
Phil won't see the virtual card until his birthday.
“Birthdays have always been social occasions, and sites like Facebook now make it possible for anyone around the world to send birthday wishes to friends – with Amazon Birthday Gift, those many individual messages can become a big gift,” said Steve Shure, Amazon vice president, traffic. “Whether it’s your best friend or your old high school teammate, Amazon Birthday Gift lets you join a social gift that will grow as more friends participate, which makes giving and receiving birthday messages on Facebook even more fun.”
It's an interesting move from Amazon, who dipped their toes in the birthday gift arena last year with their Friends and Family Gifting service. But the new Amazon Birthday Gift is a smart, easy-to-use gifting service that utilizes Facebook to make it run. Amazon is taking a swipe at Facebook's own Gifts platform on its own turf - and Amazon has an obvious advantage: Amazon gift cards offer a vast array of product choices, as opposed to the limited choice offered by Facebook Gifts.
Still, Facebook can spend time promoting its own gifting platform inside the service - something that Amazon can't really do. And we'll have to wait and see if crowdsourced birthday gifting catches on.