Facebook Readying Its Mobile-Social Move

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facebook_small.jpgADOTAS – Google is breathing down its neck with a slew of recent acquisitions and the looming debut of social network “Google Me,” but a locked-down Facebook may have an ace up its sleeve in terms of a location-based check-in service. However, the company looks like it will forgo competition with existing mobile social networks in favor of cooperation.

Multiple sources went yammering to CNET that the long-rumored Facebook location product will appear in the coming weeks as an API for third-party companies on the Facebook developer platform to integrate check-in startups and location-aware data into existing applications.

So instead of a Foursquare-killer, as has been speculated by the media, Facebook looks like it will be integrating the services of leading mobile social networks such as Foursquare, Loopt and Gowalla. CNET was told by one location-based mobile social network that Facebook suggested it rebrand its “thumbs up” feature to a “Like” button.

Facebook has also reportedly partnered with local search company Localeze to provide a business directory infrastructure. The company boasts 14 million local search business listings and powers Twitter’s “Places” directory, which allows users to add a location to their tweets if geolocation is enabled. Localeze only commented that it has many announcements in the works.

In addition, Facebook recently acquired Hot Potato, a mobile check-in service focused on events rather than locations. Sources told CNET that the acquisition was mainly to bring Hot Potato founder Justin Shaffer under its wing; in addition to working on the geolocation feature, Shaffer may be utilized in revamping Facebook’s events section.

Another possibly related acqu-hire move was the early July purchase of travel recommendation site Nextstop, which was founded by former leaders of Google’s Calendar and Picasa teams.

Facebook had reportedly offered $120 million to acquire Foursquare, but when the mobile social network suggested a sum 25% higher, Facebook walked away.

It should also be noted that Google’s social networking efforts will be led by Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundrota, whose most recent work was focused on Android and Google’s mobile products. At the time, GigaOm noted that “mobile looks to be be Google’s best front on which to wage a social war.” It wouldn’t be surprising if Google had something similar to Facebook’s check-in API in the works.

4 COMMENTS

  1. What no one seems to understand is that Facebook is about to revolutionize the location-based advertising space. The game isn’t about check-ins. It’s about loyalty, rewards and advertising. In other words, money. Check-in is simply the vehicle Facebook will use to build this new advertising empire. If I were Google or Yelp I would be very worried. They have the most to lose. A year from the discussion about Facebook check-in vs. Foursquare will appear misguided at best. Instead the conversation will be about Facebook’s phenomenal revenue growth driven by their geo-location platform. If you want more predictions on what will come from Facebook check-in, read my blog http://bit.ly/9SiBN7

  2. The stakes are high and it could get bloody but Facebook wins LBS. In order for these services to work you need scale. With 500 million users, an already very active user base, and users’ growing familiarity with FB Connect, they are the easy pick front-runner. Privacy issues will continue challenge the industry but the rewards will outweigh the risks. Read my blog on the topic http://goo.gl/EHrZ

    I agree with Dennis. Ultimately, “The game isn’t about check-ins” or game mechanics. Geolocation is the next level of internet customization. Our phones will be used as a central hub and personal beacon that will provide a whole host of new personalized services. For marketers, this contextual information is considered the Holy Grail of advertising as they try to get the right message to the right people at the right time and they will pay dearly for it.

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