Whilst Easter Apple-talk is focused on the iPad launch (US) tomorrow, Apple has just launched its f-commerce (Facebook e-commerce) store on Facebook (screenshot below) – selling apps for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Unlike its big iTunes brother the f-commerce store includes social features such as discuss and share.
Whilst it’s basic f-commerce only – a storefront (albeit predictably elegant storefront as you would expect from Apple) – linked through to the iTunes site/client checkout, the share and discuss features add real value – particularly for ‘friendsourcing’ opinions about new (iPad) apps.
The Apple f-commerce solution has been developed by Vitrue – an Atlanta-based Facebook-oriented social media marketing agency specializing in Wall Apps – and who count Best Buy, P&G, Ford, Kelloggs and AT&T among their clients. Vitrue say they are planning on adding more features to the Apple f-commerce store, which is part of their ‘SRM’ (social relationship manager) solution for doing Facebook marketing. One feature, notable by its absence, is a customer reviews tab – but that would require tighter integration with iTunes.
Apple, of course, is a pioneer in f-commerce – selling music through the Facebook gift store via its Lala brand (Lala appears to be a test lab for iTunes).
So what does it mean for other brands when the world’s most admired brand, that is also the world’s largest retailer (by market cap – at $214bn Apple is the third largest company in the US – bigger than Walmart) jumps two feet into f-commerce? The analogy that comes to mind is selling in China.
A few years ago, brands had to justify why they should be selling in China – now any brand not selling in China, has to justify why it’s not selling in China. The default presumption is that smart brands should be selling in the world’s largest market. Today, it’s the same for Facebook, rather than have to argue why they should be selling in Facebook, brands will increasingly have to justify why, if they are not selling in Facebook, why they are not selling in Facebook – the world’s largest online population.