Geolocation Evolution: Facebook Places Gets Axed

According to a new study by Pew Research Center, checking into locations via geolocation based services such as Foursquare or Facebook Places is the least popular activity among smartphone owners. The study, which surveyed over 2000 adults, reported that just 4% of adult smartphone owners say they use location based check in services.

This study was published at a time where Facebook recently announced (albeit very quietly) that they are phasing out Facebook Places, a feature that allowed Facebook users the ability to check into venues from their mobile devices. Facebook Places, which was heavily promoted and talked about when launched last year and touted as “The killer of Foursquare”, had only been used by 6% of all Facebook users two months after its launch. So what’s the issue?

In my opinion:

  • Foursquare is a pioneer in the geolocation based arena, consistently rolling out new features and making the “game” more fun. They specialize in this functionality, and Facebook simply copied Foursquare hoping for the same success.
  • Facebook users are not on Facebook to redeem coupons and check into venues, they are there to socialize and keep up with friends and family.
  • Manually checking into venues is often bothersome, something that Foursquare needs to figure out as well. It would be great if you could walk into a venue, get a prompt from Foursquare asking if you would like to check in, and voila! Done! You’re checked in. As it is now, you often have to scroll through dozens of locations to find the one you wish to check into, and this can be rude to do in front of your friends.

Is Facebook giving up on location based functionality? Are geolocation based services on the way out?

No! They are simply evolving to work better with how people are actually using them. At a time where geolocation based functionality has not hit “critical mass”, Facebook is being smart and has revamped their location based functionality to work with how people are using location based tagging, making it emphasized on every Facebook action– and not just be available within the Facebook mobile app. “Going Forward: Now you can add location to anything…Now you can add location from anywhere, regardless of what devices you are using, or whether it is a status update, photo or Wall post.”

Tag a venue in status update on Facebook

Tag a venue to your post

The update goes on to say that users will not have to add a location if they choose not to, and Facebook is phasing out the mobile-only Places feature.

Tagging yourself at a venue on Facebook through your status update

It will be interesting to see if Facebook location based features are used more after this change.

We want to know!

Will you use Facebook check in functionality now that it is part of the Facebook interface and not just within the mobile app? Are you even using geolocation based services? Leave your comments below!

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