With Facebook integrating location based services into their platform in the coming months, many are wondering how the new service will be implemented. What’s becoming increasingly clear is that Facebook will definitely be enabling services like Foursquare and Gowalla, rather than competing with them directly. From the sound of things, Facebook’s implementation could be similar in some ways to Twitter’s new implementation.
Facebook Enables Foursquare And Gowalla
Foursquare, Gowalla, and the numerous other location based services are still in their early phase. The latest numbers suggest that Foursquare has surpassed just over one million users, which barely makes a blip on Facebook’s radar (given that the company has over 400 million users). Facebook however, is currently looking to collect as much information about their users as possible in order to increase their product offerings to small businesses.
By integrating with Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, Whrrl, or whatever location based services a user prefers, Facebook will be able to collect more information about their user base while simultaneously providing a growth platform for location based service (LBS) developers. If there was any question about Facebook’s aim to support the smaller location applications, tomorrow’s presentation by Gowalla at the SXSW Facebook developer garage should clarify things.
While Facebook is not expected to announce anything regarding their location services tomorrow, Gowalla should inspire trust in other developers looking to develop their own location products.
Facebook Needs To Recruit Developers
That trust is exactly what Facebook needs. If developers begin to lose trust in Facebook, they are at risk of their ability to collect information about their continuously growing user base. That information can be used to continue fueling Facebook’s positioning as a marketing platform for small businesses. Between Facebook Pages, Facebook Ads, the soon-to-be-released Open Graph API, and location services, Facebook is looking to cater to the small business owner.
While large corporations can always attract Facebook to the table with their deep pockets, small businesses have been fueling the growth of Facebook’s advertising business and the company wants that to continue. When Facebook launched their platform in 2007, developer rushed to build applications on top of Facebook, in order to attract millions of users in days.
With much of the initial virality gone, developers are increasingly using Facebook as a tool to instantly add social functionality and increase engagement (or the application’s “stickiness”). Over the next few months, Facebook will continue their courting of developers, promising Facebook as a service which enables their applications, whether it’s location based or anything else.