Apple's apparently dipping yet another tentative toe in the social-networking pool. A new application on the Facebook iTunes fan page makes it possible for users to give customized iTunes online gifts for the holidays and other special occasions.
The simple process allows a Facebook user who has signed up as a “fan” of iTunes to select one of six templates, choose a value between $5 and $50 and a customized message, creating a virtual "gift card" which can then be electronically sent to one or more contacts either through Facebook or via e-mail. It is also possible to defer the delivery of the customized gifts to a later date—thus making remembering anniversaries and birthdays that much easier.
The Facebook application was reportedly written by Milwakee-based GroupCard, which offers printable electronic greeting cards that can be sent to multiple recipients, and is powered by Blackhawk Network, a division of Safeway that specializes in pre-paid products like gift cards and coupons.
iTunes gift cards are sold in physical form from Apple or third-party retailers or virtually via the iTunes Store itself. Alas, the Facebook application is only available to U.S. customers—and the resulting electronic gifts can only redeemed through the American iTunes store.
Customers from other parts of the world can still access some of the special offers available on the iTunes fan pages, such as various free song compilations that Apple makes available from time to time.
[Updated 5 p.m. PT 12/9 to clarify that these gift products are digital, not physical.]