When Facebook created Places in August of 2010, it did so to compete with services like Foursquare and Gowalla that were seeing huge gains in usage and traffic. Due to the growing interest in location-based software and the increased usage of smartphones, it only seemed natural that Facebook would enter the market. Enter, Places.
A year and 6 days later, Facebook announced that Facebook Places would be taking that long walk to a watery grave and joining the likes of Google Wave, Buzz and SixDegrees.com, or so we all thought. What Facebook had in mind is actually to integrate the Places check-in feature into the status update bar, hopefully making it easier and more natural to check in. For now, you still check-in the same way on your phone, but Facebook has added the ability to also Tag updates from your desktop so you can update before or after if you choose.
One big concern with the change (especially with businesses) is what’s happening to the Facebook Places pages we all spent to much time creating? All that work we’ve done, down the drain! Wasted!
Well, not quite. The Places pages and information are staying in working condition because people still have to be able to Tag them and check-in via their updates. Very little is changing in regards to the pages themselves, so rest easy.
The changes seem all well and good and may actually prove to have more people using the service, but let’s not ignore what this really is: a victory for Foursquare. Facebook came into the location-based market with its 750 million users and said “We’re taking this”, leaving services like Foursquare and Gowalla to figure out how to fight the 750 million pound gorilla in the room. If even a fraction of Facebook’s users regularly used Places instead of the other services, it would crush the 10 million users that Foursquare boasts and totally eclipse the “almost 1 million users” of Gowalla. It was a scary time for the services for a bit, but just like in the Bible, David came out on top in his battle with Goliath.
I’m not saying Facebook’s new integration is a bad move, I actually think it will increase the desired number of check-ins for them, but if Places had taken off and been the Bee’s Knees of the location-based tools, they would have never needed to change it. After a year, Facebook still hadn’t seen the growth it wanted from the service while Foursquare saw a 3400% increase in 2010. Changes had to be made.
Check-In and Check-Out
While Places is only checking into a new location on the Facebook site, a casualty of this whole process has been the experiment known as Facebook Deals. With the Places News Feed being discontinued and companies in the test markets not using Deals as much as they had hoped, Facebook is ceding another victory, this time to services like Groupon, LivingSocial and Google Offers.
In a statement, Facebook said, “We think there is a lot of power in a social approach to driving people into local businesses. We’ve learned a lot from our test and we’ll continue to evaluate how to best serve local businesses.” So, they may try something again in the future and “integrate it into the social stream” like they did with Places, but for now Deals is no more.
Where To and What Now?
For avid Facebook Places fans, this change won’t change too much. Check in when you’re out, create a post beforehand, add pictures and Tag them when you get back; this has just added more choices for you. For everyone else, it may grab their attention a little more and encourage more people to Tag and Check-In as they write updates on their desktops. For Foursquare and Gowalla, it has shown that they can still own the market on location-based tools and that people still like to earn points and be the “Mayor” of their local coffee shop.
Rest assured that Facebook will continue to change things as they see fit and we’ll more than likely see some sort of resurgence in the Deals functionality, but for now, go forth, check in, be mayor, get stamps and be sure to share it all and let us know where you are at all times.Share Article