Facebook Places Launches in France, Italy and Australia

Facebook has rolled out its location service Places to France and Australia. The launch in both nations this week may signal an acceleration of the roll out. Facebook appears to be giving access to countries with a large Facebook audience, and at least some iPhone market penetration. The two nations join the United States, the UK, Canada, and Japan bringing the total number which can access Places via the Facebook for iPhone app or touch.facebook.com to six.

France has the fifth largest Facebook audience in the world, according to the Facebook Global Monitor, and a relatively high 4.08% market penetration for the iPhone according to AdMob via Nelso. It is the second non-English speaking country to gain Places access, following the technologically advanced Japan.

Italy has an iPhone market penetration of only 1.26% according to AdMob, the lowest of any country with Places access. However, it is the country with the sixth largest Facebook population, meaning Facebook may factoring in size more than iPhone penetration for determining the order of the roll out.

Now that Places has launched in Australia, the four major English-speaking nations all have access. Australia has a 6.96% iPhone market penetration according to AdMob via Nelso. It was one of the nations most eager to use Places, with many from the country accessing the feature via U.S.-hosted VPN accounts. Facebook also opened a sales office in Australia last year.

The launch of Places in Italy could mean other non-English speaking countries which have a large Facebook audience in Western Europe, such as Germany and Spain could be in line for roll out. The launch in France could mean others with high iPhone market penetration, such as Switzerland, Denmark and Singapore, might be the next countries to gain Places access. Ireland remains the only large predominantly English speaking country without access. Facebook may also be taking the same distribution strategy it used for rolling out access to Facebook itself, namely launching in the most trendy locations first. This in turn makes Places seem cool, leading to rapid adoption wherever it’s offered.

This article contains data excerpts from Inside Facebook Gold, our research and data membership service tracking Facebook’s traffic growth and demographic landscape in global markets.

[Thanks to Joffrey, James Norquay, and Vincenzo Cosenza for the tips]

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