There has been no doubt for some time now that Facebook was looking seriously at mobile as a significant part of its future, and the announcements that came out of the popular social networking site today sealed that.
At a product announcement held at the Facebook corporate offices today, the company revealed that mobile use of its service has grown to 200 million, a tripling of the number from the same time a year ago. To this end they are working with the idea that you should now be able to use your Facebook login information to sign in to multiple services (i.e. “make sure you give us all the information you can as we love data!”), saving yourself from all of that typing on a tiny screen. So far the service works with Flixster, Groupon, Loopt, SCVNGR, Yelp and Zynga Poker for Android handsets, and the feature will come to iOS devices soon.
Places, the location based tool the company announced some time ago in the wake of a failure to purchase Foursquare, received some major upgrades today. The new features include the ability for business owners to create deals for people that check-in at their locations. The new version of the iPhone app will also allow users to search for nearby deals, with similar functions coming to Android down the road.
There are four types of deals that will be involved.
- Charity Deals – Businesses will be able to make a charity donation for every check-in they receive.
- Friend Deals – Bring friends with you, get extra deals.
- Individual Deals – Check-in just once and you receive a deal.
- Loyalty Deals – Like a loyalty card, this could be used to track purchases or check-ins and earn progressive deals.
Finally, support for Groups has come to Android now, and that means you can make all sorts of plans while on the go, and with check-ins it will be able to find the people in your group easily.
Basically, unless you are made for virtual items, or being called “Mayor”, Gowalla and Facebook may be in serious trouble here pretty rapidly. The thing is, as I and many others have said since those services launched, location based tools are features and not services unto themselves. While they are fun distractions, they are just that, distractions. A location tool part of a larger, more popular service, and this could take off like a rocket.
Foursquare may learn to regret not taking that purchase offer from Facebook.
What say you? Is Facebook moving towards a more mobile future?