Facebook Places has gone live in Australia, making it the fifth country to receive the location check-in service.
We reported last week that Australia was due for early roll-out of Facebook Places, due in part to its high usage of Facebook on mobile platforms. Facebook launched Places in the US in August, followed by Japan, the UK and Canada in recent weeks.
Facebook announced that Places went live in Australia on Thursday September 29 at 10am Australian Eastern Standard Time (5pm the day before at Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California). Place status updates should start coming in from Australia over the next few hours.
The initial listings data comes partly from Wikipedia and partly from a licensing deal with a company called Factual. This will be supplemented with places created by users.
Facebook Places product manager Michael Sharon also said the company was working on making it easier for businesses to claim Place Pages on Facebook and for users to get inappropriate places removed.
Australia is the smallest country in terms of population to receive Places so far, with only 21 million residents. However, it makes sense because the Australian population speaks English and is generally well educated and tech savvy, with high disposable incomes and a love of gadgetry. Companies such as Foursquare and Gowalla already operate successfully in Australia.
Facebook has nearly 9 million Australian users, almost half the population. Facebook does not break down its mobile user base by country but has indicated that Australia is one of the most important markets. Although Australia is a huge country geographically, a huge proportion of Australians live in the major cities where mobile services have good coverage and location data is easier to come by.