Facebook Credits, Orkut is 7, Nokia and strategy – and China

Facebook CreditsOver half of Facebook’s 500 million registered users regularly play games on the network and FarmVille, one of the best known, has over 60 million active monthly users.

So it’s no wonder that Facebook wants carve out a larger slice of this action for its virtual currency. Already available to buy for actual money on the high street from the likes of Game, Facebook Credits are set to become the defacto system social game developers must use to process payments from July.

Credits are already accepted in around 350 apps, including Zynga’s FarmVille, as well as those from Playfish, CrowdStar, Digital Chocolate, PopCap and Arkadium. Seeing that Facebook takes a 30% cut of transactions made with Credits, they’re starting to look less and less like Monopoly money.

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Google’s social network Orkut celebrated its seventh birthday earlier this week and, like any proud parent, the company was keen to talk up its achievements.

This doesn’t seems to have been the easiest thing to do, as top of the list was the 30,000 improvements made to the network since 2005, clearly a landmark figure.

The celebratory blogpost also noted the popularity of apps and games on the network, among them Mini Fazenda (mini farm), which has 17 million users – or less than a third of FarmVille’s numbers.

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Smartphone pioneer Nokia is poised to announce a major strategy shift, with reports suggesting it may start using either Microsoft’s or Google’s operating systems.

The company’s own Symbian platform has underwhelmed and Nokia, still the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer, clearly has both eyes on the direction of travel as more and more ‘dumb’ phones get upgraded.

The company’s own direction of travel seems clear from its fourth quarter results, which showed net sales of ‘mobile devices’ (mobile phones, smartphones and mobile computers) fell 2% in Europe and 32% in the US, but were up 24% in the Greater China region. The company has also just signed a deal to offer location-based services in China through its Ovi Maps product and a collaboration with SINA and Tencent.

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