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Will Facebook Overtake Foursquare in the Geolocation Game?

by admin on August 16, 2010

This fantastic map was created by Flowtown, inspired by XKCD.  It comically shows the relative sizes of social networks according to recent 2010 user data.  The sources for this data were USA Today, Alexa, Compete, and others.

In January of this year we shared some terrific graphs on our Facebook page reporting search trends from 2009 that offered some insights into the minds of average internet surfers.  We reported that Ask.com said that visitors to their site are 3 times more likely to type in search queries in the form of questions.  Question based searches have continued to grow each year. There was an average of 50 million visits per month and one of the top search queries was “What is Twitter?”  (We’re so glad to see that our moms and dads are jumping on the social media band wagon!)  This question ranked number 4 on Ask.com’s top overall questions of 2009.  Which we took to mean that social networking and social media platforms were continuing to grow in popularity, and importance.

In June we asked, Could Facebook Be Bigger Than Google in the new chicken-versus-egg conundrum… social-versus-search.  We reported that Facebook had been pushing hard against the biggest names in web search, including Google, for several months.  Hitwise’s reporte said that Facebook’s overall web traffic was ahead of Google’s for the first time in the U.S. for the week of March 15th, 2010. The market share increased 185% as compared to the same week in 2009 while Google’s traffic increased by only 9% during the same time frame.

Now, Facebook seems to be pretty confident in its own shoes and rather than going after the big players, it would seem that Facebook is taking aim at the smaller guys.  Facebook had confirmed in July that it would be launching a location-based feature in the very near future.  CNET reported that,

“It’s going to take the form of an application programming interface (API) for third-party companies on the Facebook developer platform, integrating existing “check-in” start-ups more deeply into the massive social-networking service and in turn permitting location-aware data to become a part of existing platform applications.”

What this means is that the geolocation feature won’t be an exact replica of any of the existing sites like Foursquare, Brightkite, or Gowalla but it is going to integrate a third party check-in type service to a larger platform that will become part of the site.  Some other fun facts according to Mashable are that:

  • Facebook will be partnering with Localeze to create a directory of “places” that will resemble Twitter Places
  • Facebook now owns Hot Potato, a check-in service focused around what people are doing
  • Facebook offered around $120 million to acquire Foursquare, but walked away from negotiations when Foursquare asked for 25% more.

We’re sure that Facebook and Foursquare will call their imminent relationship mutually beneficial, and it very well may be.  But, we have to ask, do these geolocation sites really have a choice?  Our guess is that Facebook made them an offer they couldn’t refuse and rather than trying to beat Facebook, Foursquare and its competitors will choose to join it.

What do you think will happen?  We love hearing your opinions so leave us a comment and let’s hear it!

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