Facebook Mobile: iPad Diss, Geo-Location Deals, Universal Sign-On and Check-ins, No Facebook Phone
BY AUSTIN CARRToday
“The iPad is not mobile!” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg Wednesday, at Facebook’s Mobile Event. Zuck was answering a question from the audience about why Facebook hadn’t launched an iPad app. “The iPad is not mobile–next question,” he said, bluntly. “I don’t meant to be rude to Apple products, but I don’t think he iPad is a mobile device in the way a phone is.”
Expected announcements for today’s event–an iPad app, Facebook phone–were quickly shutdown by the Facebook CEO, who instead chose to focus on the mobile platform. “There’s been this rumor recently that Facebook is going to build a phone,” he said, building almost suspense. “No! Our goal is to make everything social. Our goal is to make it so no matter what platform you’re building for, it can be social.”
Facebook, he boasted, now has 200 million active mobile users–triple from last year–and today’s presser was all about expanding Facebook’s footprint in the mobile space agnostically across any platform, with universal check-ins, sign-ons, and location-based deals.
Here’s the big announcements Facebook made today.
“No one enjoys logging in,” said Facebook’s Eric Sang, complaining about the annoyances of typing usernames and passwords on a mobile phone. “All of this is obviously really terrible–Single Sign-on solves this probem.”
Now, instead of entering a password and username each time, one must enter it only once. From the on, just click the Facebook Login button, which will appear, says Facebook, on a bunch of other sites, most notably GroupOn, which was invited on stage to present the Single Sign-on-enhanced app.
“This make it really easy,” a GroupOn product lead said, showing how with just one-click, users could access daily deals.
Other partners in the development include Yelp, Loopt, and Scvngr.
“If Single Sign-on is the key to opening up the opportunities in mobile, then this is where location comes in,” began Sang, before introducing engineering manager Dave Fetterman, who introducted the new elements of the location API.
The crux of the update is that friends checking in on a variety services can now be followed on Facebook. So, when checking in on Gowalla or Foursquare, check-ins are pulled over to Facebook Places, and vice-versa.
Essentially, it ends having to worry about having friends on Facebook Places or Gowalla or Foursquare. Check-ins are culled and friends can be followed from the entire social graph.
“The thing that’s been missing in [online] interaction is for that local business–the wine shop, the bar, the coffeee shop–to intereact with me,” said another Facebook exec. “The basic idea with Deals is to push deals out to existing customers and hopefully attract proximate new customers.”
Here’s how it works. When a user is walking down the street, he or she can pull up Facebook Places to see a list of near-by locations and deals. When seeing the right deal, one can claim it by checking in and showing it to a restaurant waiter or coffee chop cashier. Users can also share the deal with friends.
There are four types of deal, explained Emily White, Facebook’s director of local:
Individual: Buy one salad, get the second half-off.
Loyalty: The classic sandwich shop deal. Buy nine BLTs, get the tenth free. Facebook even provides a graphic punch-card.
Friend: Businesses can offer deals of groups of people, say, a free appetizer if a group of four comes in to a restaurant–all checking in, of course.
Charity: Check-ins for charity–each check-in allows users to donate money to a particular cause.
Big businesses are jumping on-board for launch. To kick-off the update, Gap will give the first 10,000 people nationwide to check in at Gap any pair of blue jeans–for free. Those checking in after that first batch will still get 44% off regularly priced items.
Any business–major or local–can easily get involved. Just choose the kind of deal, add a few lines of description, and then specify when the deal starts and ends.