Using the Tagline Who, What, When, and Now…Where Facebook has officially announced the introduction of Facebook places. Will this be a killer for geolocation services Gowalla and Foursquare? It’s a bit early to tell however they may have taken a wrong step by not including certain features.
Places is currently only available in the US first of all, whereas both Foursquare and Gowalla support international venues. Places was also only released with an iphone app and a website for phones that support HTML5, this excludes millions of Blackberry and Android users from using a native app to check in.Given these facts Facebook may not gain traction as quickly since it lacks a single killer feature. Also most smart-phones are not able to use the online checkin since HTML5 is still an emerging technology. The lack of international support really is another issue especially in developing countries like Jamaica where check-in based service Foursquare is one the rise.
Facebook does have one feature that trumps both Foursquare and Gowalla, when a friend tags you at a location you are automatically checked in there. Facebook also shows friends nearby, so you can link up. Both features raise serious privacy concerns though, especially if they are turned on by default. Also if you can be tagged anywhere how is this verified?
It is clear Facebook plans on
monetizing the service, with a places for business section under their help page (so they are definately competing with Foursquare). Facebook has also promised to have a read API ready (allows applications to work with Facebook Places) which should allow Foursquare and Gowalla to integrate their apps with Facebook’s new service. By allowing Facebook checkins through Foursquare, Foursquare could increase market share by being THE major app for third party checkins on Facebook, since there is no official app got Android or Blackberry (that would be ironic).
It is still too early to tell but with lack of international support and no native applications for Android and Blackberry this seems like a case of deferred success. What do you think? Please comment below: