Just a year since Facebook launched their Places product, Business Insider is reporting they’ll be scaling back check-ins and transitioning to a more Twitter-like model of attaching places to status updates.
When Places launched, pundits declared it would mean a quick death to foursquare. It was, after all, a poor knockoff of foursquare’s checkin capability with the power of Facebook’s hundreds of millions of users behind it.
Since it launched, it’s seen very little in the way of updates except for the addition of Deals, which mimicked foursquare’s Specials functionality. It never really took off amongst Facebook’s users with only a small percentage using it on a regular basis. In that same time, foursquare has added about 10 million users and launched new features like Explore, photos, comments, lists, daily deal integration and events.
Because it insists on every checkin appearing in the news feed, Facebook’s network is better suited to the more exciting checkins users make, which is roughly the same as the 20% of checkins foursquare users push to Facebook. That severely limits the amount of data that can be collected about the more mundane places people visit, which is what foursquare is betting on by selling that data to businesses.
According to Business Insider, Facebook will be removing the stand-alone checkin feature from its mobile apps and moving to a model where locations are instead attached to status updates. Twitter allows the same thing, but it’s little-used by most users.
It appears Facebook intends to keep location as a major part of its service, but will be ceding this round of the checkin war to foursquare. It remains to be seen what effect, if any, Facebook’s changes will have on foursquare going forward.
What do you think of the move? Is this a big deal or nothing but a small change for Facebook?