Facebook’s location checkin service Places is now available to users in Brazil, India, Singapore, the Philippines, South Africa, Egypt, Israel, other countries around the world, according to users in those countries. We’re checking with Facebook about the scope of the launch — the company has been slowly rollling the feature out since August, starting with iPhones and Facebook mobile sites in the US, often waiting until smart phone penetration reaches critical mass in a certain country before launching.
Update: Facebook tells us that the rollout covers just about everywhere, with some notable exceptions.”We are confirming that Places has become globally available with the exception of Korea and Russia where we are working to launch Places soon,” a spokesperson tells us.
The widespread launch today could indicate that there are many countries with the appropriate smartphone penetration, or the company could just be releasing it to everyone everywhere to see how it’s used.
Over the last few months, Places has become available in the U.K., Japan, Canada, France, Italy, Australia, Denmark and several other countries. Simultaneously, the major handheld device operating systems including Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7, Palm webOS have gained support for Places through their native Facebook apps.
Some international users couldn’t wait until their country officially received Places, and instead employed US-hosted VPN accounts to be able to checkin locally.
Facebook has chosen international countries with high smart phone penetration to launch Places because there are the spots where users have a way to checkin. If Facebook launches too early before smart phones have proliferated, Places wouldn’t receive enough checkins to convince locals of its value.[Image via Mobiputing.]