The first in a multi-part series.
Facebook Places, unlike Foursquare and Gowalla, is a feature not an app.
Since the public unveiling of Facebook “Places”, the proverbial ”jump-to-conclusions mat” has been unfurled gratuitously by social media types across America. The implications of “Places” is not quite as revolutionary as many, including myself, had previously anticipated. While many seem focused on the consequences of “Places” for geo-location apps such as Foursquare and Gowalla, I have become more fascinated with what “Places” tells us about Facebook.
Before I get into the deeper implications, let’s start with what “Places” is, or better, what it isn’t. “Places” is not an app, it’s a feature that merely adds ability (read: opportunity) to Facebook. “Places” has carved a place for geo-locating apps in the Facebook universe. This means that geo-location apps like Foursquare will be integrated with, and build their applications upon, the Facebook system. So Facebook “Places” is not the killer app. To the contrary, it will likely supercharge the geo-location app market by removing the complex back-end development costs necessary to implement such an app.
For all who were hoping to witness Facebook and Foursquare engaging in an epic battle over the digital map of Middle Earth: Foursquare, my friends, is merely a game and Facebook is now the operating system.