Facebook rolled out some new mobile features yesterday, most notably “Facebook Deals,” a kind of mashup of Foursquare/Gowalla, and Groupon. Users can check in on Facebook Places and get location-sensitive deals from nearby merchants. The Gap, for example, will give out a free pair of jeans to the first 10,000 people who check in at one of its stores tomorrow, Fast Company reports. There will also be tools to allow third-party developers to make apps using Facebook’s location services.
The features seem nifty enough, but they could utterly doom the scrappy startups that pioneered these ideas, E.B. Boyd writes. Foursquare, for example, has 4-5 million users to Facebook’s 500 million. “If you’re a national brand trying to connect with customers, which network is likely to deliver the impact you're looking for?” But the little guys are defiant. Foursquare pointed on that it was growing rapidly, and Groupon said Deals was “a different product that serves a different need.” If the smaller sites can focus on quality over quantity, they might make it.