July 3, 2013
Facebook Brings Its Mobile Stickers To The Web
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Earlier this spring Facebook announced Home, a suite of apps for Android meant to make elements of the social site native to the phone. A month later, Facebook pushed out some features of Home to their iOS Messages app, including Chat Heads and stickers. Stickers are now rolling out to desktop users, and these users can choose from a catalog of available images in Facebook's Sticker Store.
Though they're calling the collection a "store," the stickers are currently free, although Facebook could one day decide to sell sponsored stickers. Though the social network is increasing their push to bring stickers to their messaging platform, (other social networking apps also offer stickers), TechCrunch says their head sticker designer has left the company.
The stickers work like emojis and can be embedded in messages to add a bit of color or cute to otherwise plain text messages. Some of these stickers are also animated images and feature wide-eyed characterizations of baked goods, cats, monkeys, rabbits and more. The stickers are not, however, very easy to find; they're located in the web chat messaging window. Clicking the smiley face icon in the messaging window calls up some emoticon and sticker selections, some of which are already available to use. To find more stickers, such as Beast, an animated avatar of Mark Zuckerberg's dog, click the shopping cart sticker. Here you can preview other sticker collections and install them to the chat service. Currently there are 16 sticker packs to choose from, including a sponsored pack depicting characters from the new movie "Despicable Me 2."
According to TechCrunch, the designer who started the sticker program, Sophie Xie, has left the company. Xie started the program following one of Facebook's famous Hackathons, which invite engineers and developers to a 24-hour event where they can create and submit new features for the social networking platform. It remains unclear whether Xie's departure will have any effect on Facebook's new sticker platform
Though these packs are all labeled as "Free," the shopping cart icon suggests Facebook could one day sell these collections to users. Facebook could stand to make some money from the stickers, either directly or indirectly. More users may end up using the messaging platform once they discover the free stickers, driving increased traffic and engagement with the network. This also provides Facebook with more data about who is talking to whom, which in turn allows them to create increasingly targeted ads. Charging for stickers could also earn Facebook some cash, especially if they ask for a percentage of the sales of these stickers.
Though the idea of stickers seems nothing but silly, messaging services like Facebook's have been gaining popularity and eating into SMS traffic.
Last year the number of text messages sent declined for the first time as more users turn to messaging services like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Apple's iMessage and others. Google has even been rumored as wanting to acquire WhatsApp to drive messaging traffic through their own platform which could include GChat and Google Hangouts.