Facebook has announced a partnership with OpenTable that will allow users to book reservations at more than 20,000 restaurants directly from the Facebook mobile app. This new addition puts Facebook in more direct competition with Yelp (which allows booking from OpenTable) but could also possibly lead to another revenue stream for Facebook depending on how users and the restaurants react.
Until now, users might have heard about a restaurant from a friend on Facebook, but in order to book a reservation they would have to leave the Facebook app and use the OpenTable app or go directly to the restaurant website. Now, this isn’t necessary, making the process that much quicker. In a related move, Facebook is adding local TV listings so that if a show has a Facebook page, it will now display the local time and channel if a viewer looks at the page.
Overall, both of these moves are clear indicators that Facebook is looking to further embrace mobile users and make the app even more useful. Every time they add new functionality to the app, it means users are less likely to leave and use another app. Eventually this will likely result in more restaurants, TV shows and other businesses wanting to come onto Facebook in a bigger way. If you really step back, Facebook is in the business of data gathering and then selling that data to advertisers so they can place targeted ads on Facebook or use the data in a wider manner. Every time Facebook gives users another reason to use the site, they enter more data and Facebook and their customers benefit.
However, users need to maintain an awareness that they are being sucked dry of data over time and while they may enjoy Facebook, they are paying for it and not being compensated in turn for all that personal information. Some people feel this is a reasonable exchange, but others might not be as forgiving if they realized how much their data is worth to businesses and advertisers.
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