Once again, Facebook (News - Alert) is aiming to expand into new territory in an effort to expand its revenue, this time in the form of local discovery. Actually, this isn't an expansion into new territory per se — the social network tried something similar a couple years ago with Places — but this time around, the situation is a little different.
For one thing, this new local discovery feature is called Nearby, which is to be featured in Facebook's mobile app, offering suggestions on businesses and other places of interest. Secondly, Nearby offers suggestions based directly on information from your Facebook account — stuff you or your friends have "liked," places you've checked into — which is something that Places lacked.
Most importantly, though, Facebook is going into this local discovery venture better equipped with the expertise of location-based services company Gowalla, which the social network acquired about a year ago. Fortunately, Facebook decided to keep a handful of workers from the acquisition, most notably its founder and CEO, Josh Williams.
Image via www.facebook.com
As such, Nearby seems to be a much more concrete effort at location-based services than Places, but it will still be interesting to see how exactly the feature will be integrated into the Facebook mobile app. Surely, Facebook doesn't want to have Nearby overlooked, but if the company attempts to shove it down users' throats, there is bound to be a negative response.
Either way, it's a smart move for a company that could really use more steady revenue now that it has shareholders to keep happy, since users will have to keep their profiles up-to-date and filled out with information to get greater accuracy in predictions.
Indeed, it seems Facebook's recent acquisitions — including Tagtile and Instagram in April, Glancee, Lightbox and Karma in May, and four more from June through to August — over the last year is finally shaping into real revenue. Glancee, for example, has served to beef up Facebook's mobile offering, which was deemed its weakest leading up to its IPO.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman