Facebook and Apple launched today "iTunes Gifts," a partnership between the Cupertino company and the social network, that offers $10, $15, $25 or $50 virtual gift certificates with which Facebook users can suggest what songs, videos, apps or games the recipients of their presents should spend their certificates on.
The project further advances the alliance between Apple and Facebook, which started when the social network was embedded into Apple's recently launched iOS 6 operating system. iTunes Gifts also offers the potential to increase the Apple Store's sales while providing Facebook with the opportunity to split revenues (and mining an abundance of data and information about the what both givers and receivers like).
For users, iTunes Gifts could be appealing because of the convenience of using their Facebook list of friends as an actual Christmas list they can go through from the comfort of their own homes, schools or offices (via their laptop, tablets computers or smart phones). The service could also provide a source of market research — both for users and the companies — as it pairs users' profile pictures with the products they pick (tailoring products to each user's likes and profile).
But, as TechCrunch says, the real potential of Facebook Gifts is to take the guesswork and decision making out of shopping (focusing on "smoothing out all the friction of giving presents to friends until the only pain is the price").