November 4, 2010

Facebook Unveils Mobile ‘Deals’ Features

Facebook unveiled new features for its mobile platform on Wednesday that will allow users to check into third-party applications with a simple click of a Facebook sign-in icon.

The move is part of Facebook's drive to become an important part of smartphone lifestyles by allowing users to find bargains at nearby shops and connect with other mobile software applications.

More than 200 million people now use the Facebook on their mobile phones, offering a potentially lucrative opportunity for retailers to offer deals to nearby customers.

The new "ËœDeals' feature builds on its three-month old "Places" functionality, which among other things includes the check-in feature and allows users to broadcast their location.

With "ËœDeals', merchants will be able to transmit special offers to Facebook mobile users who "check in" when they are near their stores.

The new mobile platform features open up potential new revenue opportunities for Facebook by enticing more people to use its location-based check-in service.  However, executives with the company said they had no concrete plans for now to make money from the new feature.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company had tripled its number of mobile users to about 200 million, a significant increase from the 65 million mobile users it had this time last year.

"There are things that you can do on mobile phones that you can't do on the normal Web," Zuckerberg said in an interview with Reuters following a briefing at the company's headquarters on Wednesday.

"People have their phones with them all the time, so a lot more usage is happening on phones," he said, adding that most of today's specialized mobile applications fall short in integrating social networking features.

Facebook announced other new features to integrate its service into third party mobile apps, including technology that automatically uses a member's user name and password to log into the third party applications.

The company also said that it would allow other companies to access its database of location information, including the friends and businesses that are near a Facebook user, as a way to encourage development of a new generation of mobile apps.

However, Facebook executives said during the briefing that the new mobile features would not change any of Facebook's existing privacy settings, and that only information that users have chosen to make publicly available would be accessible by third-party application developers.

The online social networking service dismissed rumors that it was developing its own mobile device. 


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