Just over a year after launching a girls’ social networking site to compete with Facebook, CondeNet’s Flip.com is joining it: In January Conde Nast’s digital unit began powering down the original site and concentrating on an app that will work on Facebook and other social nets, and today it’s launched it.
The app is a “flipbooks” program that lets users draw moustaches and such on digital photos. And unlike earlier magazines’ attempts to create Facebook apps, it’s not designed to move users away from the social net and back to a publisher’s site; users can edit photos and create albums without leaving Facebook.
Flip.com itself isn’t going away entirely: Executive editor Chris Gonzalez says about 300,000 people still visit every month and says CondeNet is still selling ads there. But the push will be exploiting the app on Facebook, and creating versions that work on other social networks like MySpace.
The value of apps in general is still up for debate: Many of the most popular ones have seen big dropoffs in users over the last few months, and many have a hard time generating much revenue. Yet optimists like USV’s Fred Wilson, who recently invested in app company Zynga, say the good ones are monetizing more effectively than Facebook itself.