Google is lost in location-based battle with Facebook, will it checkin?

Mark Zuckerberg introduces new mobile platform

Today Mark Zuckerberg announced a bunch of stuff. Go read Techmeme to hear about Single Signon, and its new deal platforms. Those are interesting because they increase the lockin that Facebook will have over its users. Why? Well now you’ll always keep your phone signed into Facebook and you’ll be able to instantly sign into new services that use Facebook’s single signin. That alone is pretty big, but I’m a user and focused on location-based services.

But don’t miss the huge shift going on.

In the past, to find a business, we’d go to Google and type something like “Palo Alto Sushi.”

We’re heading toward a world where you’ll use location-based services to do the same thing. That is a HUGE disruptive threat to Google.

Here’s why.

In Google’s world they controlled everything and were able to decide which ads get displayed next to searches for businesses.

The world has now shifted to where people like my wife stay signed into Facebook 18 hours a day. Now she can see which businesses her friends are using.

Soon, we’ll have the ability to even get deals. For instance, the North Face is giving us $1 to check in at a National Park or at one of its stores.

Look at how folks find their way into my brother’s bar in Virginia, too. What will get people into a bar? A Google style ad, or an ad that says “five of your friends are at the bar right now?” Hint: Google-style ads don’t work for lots of businesses and social and location-based ads are far more effective.

Today Facebook laid down an entire platform for doing this, which will enable new mobile apps to have these features built in. Google is lost in such a world.

That should scare the hell out of them. What’s Google’s answer?


19 thoughts on “Google is lost in location-based battle with Facebook, will it checkin?

  1. That’s a very good question. Since Apple’s got Siri and Facebook’s starting to do the same stuff in their own way, Google probably SHOULD start waking up. I think it’ll be VERY interesting to see how this all plays out. And with Instagram already with 500K users in their opening weeks, I think they’re going to start entering the gameplay.


  2. Apple and Google own the OS though. And for Apple, they make their own hardware, and it’s not split between many different devices.

    Put another way – 2011 is going to be RFID from the rumours – Nokia’s already stated this, and Apple’s been seen to have the patents, job positions and recruitments, for this push. I haven’t seen the Google patents, but if you look at – you’ll see that the concept of transient location based applications is there – of bringing in local, and crucially having the controls not at the app’s level (Facebook app) but at the OS level.
    Single-sign in lets Facebook try and get an end run around its competitors – One sign in to rule them all (and guess who gets all the valuable data of usage? Zuckerberg was careful with his words about 3rd parties – he basically said nothing will happen that the user doesn’t agree with – but we’ve already seen the T&C of what they can get away with.)

    They’ve got the numbers, and are trying to swoop in and stop the discrete buckets of information created by users having separate accounts.

    What’s Facebook’s financial incentive? Versus Google’s or Apple’s?
    Facebook wants the data, and the advertising, Google wants the ads, the data and the search (with the ads), Apple wants the sales mostly.

    Apple and Google can integrate LBS easier than an application – Facebook still have the issue that the user has to have the app running, or have the user go to the Facebook web page/app to get this information. Facebook’s trying to get mind-share by getting the individual companies and users going through Facebook.

    RFID – Could change sign in to a location – a physical close field swipe of your phone – rather than having to show the counter staff for that discount and them authorise.

    PS No mention of Zuckerberg’s snub on the iPad?


    1. I think you missed the point that Facebook Mobile is already larger than iPhone or Android’s OS. Essentially it’s already the largest mobile (social) OS across every platform.


  3. Robert,
    The kind of friends I might spend time with at a bar…its likely that they’d have called me or vice-versa. Facebook friends are a far less intimate group….
    The question is, I think, what activities would be attractive to a larger circle…
    Of-course deals are a different matter, as are recommendations from facebook friends…the former being time-limited but the latter being time shifted and even more importantly aggregated!


  4. Google has bought 11 Social Media Companies in 2010….including Aardvark which is a social based service. They have also invested heavily in SCVNGR (a location based social media/gaming service) and Sign Post (where users post the latest and greatest deals around town.) They will be able to tailor fit searches for the individual. They can’t buy Facebook….but they will get facebook data, and they will use it to give you exactly what you want in an interactive and pleasing manner.


    1. “and they will use it to give you exactly what you want in an interactive and pleasing manner.”

      You mean like Google Buzz…? Yeah, that one was pleasing…a real doozy…

      Google so far has shown a clear lack of that social “special sauce”. So now they bought a bunch of companies hoping that theirs will somehow rub off on them. But will it? Or will all of those companies wither on the vine like so many other Google purchases during “integration”, many of which were social BTW.

      Look, I am rooting for Google to do something great in the space (and Buzz wasn’t it…), just so that Facebook gets a bit of competition. But I am not convinced anymore that they can. Their DNA is all-out engineering, which is why they’ll do stuff like Instant Search. Or Android. All great stuff. But this year has gone by and really Google has only fallen further behind in social than it was at the beginning of the year.


  5. You totally don’t get it. There’s no way I’m calling my 1,700 friends and asking them what restaurant they are eating at right now. Or, what mountain bike they like the best. Or what band is hot.


    1. How about for the overwhelming majority of us that have maybe 100 people on Facebook that they communicate with on a regular basis, maybe 5 of which are pros on a given topic.


  6. You totally don’t get it. There’s no way I’m calling my 1,700 friends and asking them what restaurant they are eating at right now. Or, what mountain bike they like the best. Or what band is hot.


  7. Hmmnnn… very interesting, Google is getting a lot of requests to blur out their homes at street view and yet at Facebook people are willing to divulge their current location. Talk about privacy huh?


  8. The money is more than just in advertising. Facebook stands to make a cut from all social commerce transactions. I thought that Foursquare might kickstart it, but now with this launch, Facebook seems to have moved ahead. This is why I think so:
    It’s also likely that the recommendations are aggregated not just from “friends”, but also from who has checked-in at that location recently.


  9. Robert, this has to be one of the worst-written articles/posts I’ve ever read.

    It lacks flow, which makes it difficult to read, and presents the info in a very illogical fashion… there’s no order to the thoughts/ideas.

    And to tell me that I should “find it on TechMeme” without providing a link… that’s just a complete disregard for my time. If you want me to read your junk, at least make it easy for me to follow the conversation.

    I don’t mean to sound like an ass, but for a highly-respected _______ that Robert is considered to be in the industry, this article seems to have been written by someone in the 5th grade.


      1. You are a real diplomat, Robert. Thanks for the leadership in all ways.

        On this whole arena, I have to ask — what’s the adoption of smart phones overall? Assuming that you need a smart phone to access these cool services. 25% of US market? Google has time, right? That’s no diss on your post.

        I also have to ask because I’ve been working on this hyperlocal project where I’ve tried to reality-check the stats that I hear that 50% of small businesses don’t have a website or online presence. I’ve found it to be true in my walks on Main Street.

        What I love about LBS and FB is that the small co that has never built a site or glommed onto anything web can now LEAPFROG into the social space with far less effort and greater reward. I like the comment about barcode/QR code — those seem to me to be a great way to enable “check ins.” Also, I like the SMS/Text-based mobile marketing methods like (no affiliation altho I have blogged about them at People opt in and you can send them text message offers, updates, etc. Reaches the 75% of market without a smartphone…


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