[UK] Flirtomatic, the mobile social network that lets users “flirt, meet new people and have fun”, says it sold 28,000 virtual gifts in five days over the Christmas break, between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve. In total the company says it shifted over 1 million virtual gifts in 2009, selling around 82,000 virtual gifts in December alone.
This would tally with a wider trend that saw Brits reportedly spend over £500 million on virtual goods last year.
Unsurprisingly, Flirtomatic’s Christmas Stocking was one the FlirtShop’s best sellers, despite being one of the most expensive gifts, selling over 16,000. Other top items included Candy Canes (just under 9,000), Mistletoe (around 8,300) and Rednose Reindeer (over 7,000). The company’s PR were also keen to let us know that Snowwomen outsold Snowmen by almost 2-1, although we’re not sure why this is significant. Either way, the pointless and trivial nature of these gifts does provide compelling evidence that virtual gifts and mobile micropayments have come of age.
Mark Curtis, CEO of Flirtomatic says in a canned statement: “There’s no doubt that when done correctly, virtual gifts have helped encourage more people to make micro payments using their mobile and by doing so, has built up their confidence in using their phone to pay for things.”
Interestingly, aside from post-Christmas day boredom, Flirtomatic says that it also benefited from Vodafone UK’s free Internet offering over the holiday period for the mobile network’s Pre-pay (PAYG) customers, resulting in a six fold increase in new sign-ups for Flirtomatic during the period. This seems perfectly plausible considering that the site predominantly targets non-smartphones with a WAP version – although its iPhone app was finally released last week – and has a user base that consists mainly of adults under the age of 30.
What’s next for Flirtomatic’s booming virtual gift economy? Valentine’s Day isn’t far around the corner. The company says it’s “already stocking its virtual shelves of Valentine’s gifts and services”, including a Valentine’s Gift Box, and a “Secret Valentines service”, which will allow Flirtomatic users to send gifts to people outside of Flirtomatic.