Today in a special session of the Facebook Developer Garage London event series, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and a few executives provided more details about the company’s product plans, and some updated statistics.
A location service is indeed on the way — “we are finishing designing our application soon and hope to offer it soon,” Zuckerberg said. While he referred to an application, a variety of hints point to a broader federated system where third parties would share location data back and forth with Facebook, rather than compete with it.
Here’s a quick recap of recent Facebook location news. McDonald’s is reportedly building location data into a custom app for a Page-based marketing campaign. Facebook’s new Open Graph Protocol allows third parties to share specifics like address, and latitude and longitude. Facebook has also had discussions with location-based services like Foursquare and Loopt — possibly about acquisitions and possibly about partnerships — and it even recently hired a Loopt engineer to work on its mobile team. It has meanwhile reportedly been looking into ways of getting more location data straight into it system.
Facebook has experimented with many location ideas since at least last year, but concerns about privacy, the newness of location services in the consumer market, and other product priorities have contributed to the delays.
An in-house Facebook location app, in any case, could be more of a conduit for location data, sort of like its Events app is for third-party events services. You can export Facebook events data to third-party apps like Apple’s iCal or Google Calendar, for example, so you can imagine being able to import and export data like a list of local destinations where you regularly check in.
Aside from location, the company provided some other meaningful details, mostly stats related to Europe. The company said that it has 26 million monthly active users in the United Kingdom, 16 million in Italy, 15 million in France and 10 million in Germany and Spain, respectively — this pretty much matches up with the country numbers we recently reported in our May Global Market Monitor report.
Among the more than 300,000 web sites that have integrated Facebook’s new social plugins, “a disproportionate amount” of the development with them is “coming from startup” in the region, according to Zuckerberg. European users are responding, apparently, as he said they’re generating nearly half of all Likes via the Like Button. This is even though European users comprises a smaller minority of Facebook’s 500 million or so users.