Microsoft-owned Skype is rolling out updates today to both its Mac and Windows desktop applications, which introduce the ability for Skype users to send each other gifts in the form of Skype credit Gift Cards. The feature ties in nicely given Skype’s Facebook integration, as users already receive alerts on the platform when one of their Facebook friends is having a birthday.
Previously, these “birthday” alerts would just annoyingly remind you that you need to go log into Facebook to leave your usual “happy birthday – hope you’re having a great day!” post on your friend’s Timeline. After all, relaying that greeting through Skype sends it through Facebook messaging – and then all your friends can’t see how thoughtful and sincere you are. Right?
But with the addition of e-gifts, Skype is now prompting users to actually do something thoughtful for their friends. Gift givers can pick out a virtual gift card, personalize their message and add an amount of their choosing. The card is delivered to the recipient via email, who can then use the credit to call you with their prolific thanks. Or anyone else, for that matter.
Gifting is a new area that many social networks, including Facebook itself, are now exploring as a way to potentially generate additional revenue. Facebook’s own Gifts platform has had a slow start, accounting for a minuscule portion of Facebook’s earnings last quarter, however. The network also recently launched reusuable gift cards for use at stores and restaurants last month, as its efforts in this space expand. But it’s still an unproven market at this point.
Skype credits, on the other hand, make a bit more sense as a birthday option, since Skype users are often dialing close friends and family over the platform. That makes it a bit more thoughtful – and useful – a gift versus something like a smoothie at Jamba Juice.
Today’s update on Windows also adds a newly redesigned toolbar, which centralizes access to common menus and actions like Home, Calling Phones, Creating Groups, and Adding Contacts.