Word has come from Mashable and All Things D that Facebook is announcing something on Wednesday and the rumour is that we're going to see the much-anticipated location services to take Foursquare, Gowalla, and Yelp head on. I'm a reasonably active Foursquare user (Disclosure: I'm in the midst of writing a book on using Foursquare), but don't use the other services. Many people feel that if Facebook launches "location services" will effectively kill competing services, but I wonder if people would use or even switch to a Facebook service. Is this Facebook's bridge too far or just another thing Facebook is doing to build and improve the user experience?
Yes, I'm a well-known Facebook curmudgeon. I try to avoid using Facebook as much as possible (though I do acknowledge Facebook's usefulness, even if begrudgingly), but I know I'm in the minority. Foursquare, is on the other hand, just gaining momentum and far from something that has taken the mainstream by storm. While I've been writing Teach Yourself Foursquare, I've been working on answering the "yeah, so what" question throughout the book. Sometimes it's easy to answer this question for an online service, but for location-based services, it's so new that I think the challenge all that much harder. Regardless, if you could "checkin" on Facebook, would you? What do you think the value would be to do this through Facebook vs another service? Looking at Facebook's issues with privacy, and the very real privacy/security concerns about announcing your location, I would wonder if people might eschew a Facebook checkin as compared to Foursquare where you have a different set of people as friends (see also my previous post on this).
All this said, Facebook has a huge advantage in the number of users and potential to draw businesses in for "checkin bonuses". If nothing else people will "try out" a new location offering from Facebook (I know I will). What will matter in the race of location-based services/games is not what extras the service brings to the table, but how safe people feel using it. And frankly, that's a long row to hoe for Facebook.
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