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Facebook's success hasn't only netted its founders, early employees and investors billions of dollars, the world's largest social network has built an ecosystem that has served as the foundation for other businesses collectively worth billions.
From large social gaming companies like Zynga all the way to individual developers building Facebook apps out of their bedrooms, Facebook's launch of a development platform in 2006 proved to be a game-changer for online entrepreneurs.
After a rocky start, Facebook's life as a publicly-traded company has settled down a bit. Despite healthy skepticism about its prospects in light of a $100bn valuation, its stock price has stabilised (for now) while industry observers and investors are taking stock of its actual -- not hypothetical -- business.
But one of Facebook's best friends, social gaming giant Zynga, hasn't been so fortunate. Today, its stock plunged to under $5, its lowest level since the company went public last year.
Facebook has built a multi-billion dollar ecosystem with its application platform, but much of the growth of that platform has been driven by social games created by companies like Zynga.
In an effort to help the 900m-plus Facebook users discover apps of all shapes and sizes, and create new monetization opportunities for app developers, Facebook yesterday announced the launch of its own app store, the App Center.
Social gaming on Facebook may be past its prime, but don't tell social gaming juggernaut Zynga that casual gaming is.
The company, which went public late last year, yesterday reported $321m in revenue in the first quarter of 2012 -- its highest quarterly revenue figure ever. All told, bookings rose to $329m, up 15% year-over-year, while the $321m in revenue represented a more impressive 32% year-over-year increase.
One of the biggest drivers of Facebook's success has arguably been the rise of social gaming.
From Mafia Wars to Farmville, Facebook's platform has become a virtual gaming console of sorts for millions upon millions of consumers, creating a multi-billion dollar virtual currency opportunity for Facebook that it's exploiting with Facebook Credits.
What does a single app that generates 20m downloads and $100,000 per day in revenue in five weeks? In the case of OMGPOP, the maker of the hit app Draw Something, it apparently gets you acquired in week six.
Today, social gaming giant Zynga announced that it has acquired OMGPOP.
In the run-up to the Facebook IPO, some observers are casting a skeptical eye towards the social network's advertising business. Ads, not surprisingly, account for much of the company's revenue, and there are certainly some areas of concern.
But if two lawyers have their way, Facebook's virtual currency business, which many believe is also crucial to the company's future, could be facing major challenges.
If you've followed the rise of social gaming over the past several years, you might have drawn the conclusion that social gaming companies like Zynga, which is gearing up to go public, and Playfish, which was acquired by EA, represent the future of gaming.
After all, while there's no doubt that hardcore gamers aren't disappearing, the tens of millions of users playing casual games like Farmville on social networks, namely Facebook, vastly outnumber the number who are buying the latest and greatest consoles and gaming rigs.
While the business of virtual goods has probably been popularized most by social games such as Farmville, the mobile market for virtual goods has developed into a lucrative space for mobile games as well.
There's a good reason for this: charging for a mobile game itself has become increasingly difficult for many game developers, and virtual goods offer one of the best ways to implement a freemium model.
According to mobile ad network Flurry, as of June 2011, well over half (65%) of the revenue for top-grossing games in Apple's U.S. App Store was generated by freemium games. Just six months earlier, 61% of revenue was generated by paid games.
Google+ may represent the biggest threat Facebook has ever faced since it launched more than half a decade ago. But is Google's new social network, which may be off to the fastest start ever for a social network, already buckling underneath the surface?
Despite the fact that Google may have finally built a social network capable of competing in the market, cracks are showing which raise doubts about Google+'s future prospects.
Following the subsequent acquisition of Maktoob by Yahoo, Samih founded Jabbar Internet Group, an integrated group of online companies and websites. The group’s assets extend from e-commerce sites to online games, to advertising products & search services.
I caught up with Samih to find out a little more about the companies within the Jabbar Internet Group, and the future of digital marketing in the Middle East...