Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook’s offering in geo-location is being finalized and is on its way soon at a developer meetup in London.
“We are finishing designing our application soon and hope to offer it soon,” he said, according to attendees. (The Ustream recording of his talk is embedded below. It seems to skip the part about location, but several attendees including The Financial Times’ correspondent Tim Bradshaw retweeted Zuckerberg’s comments.)
The company has said that it’s been working on location for some time. Its most recent privacy agreement suggested that people would be able to notify friends of their whereabouts, as well as announcing that they like physical places in the real world, much as they declare that they like movies, musicians, and celebrities now on the social network.
From what we’ve heard, Facebook’s approach to location isn’t designed to be mutually exclusive of other startups in the space like Foursquare or Gowalla, which currently let their users broadcast their location on Facebook. The social network perceives itself as the platform for a host of place-related experiences and the initial design for location might be relatively simple, like attaching a location to a status update, an approach similar to the one taken by microblogging service Twitter. A product that is relatively conservative at first might also allow the company to avoid rekindling privacy concerns.
That said, Facebook has experimented with more ambitious location technology. At its most recent developer conference in April, attendees could use a radio-frequency ID tag to “like” different venues around the building. You’d take a Facebook RFID tag, tap it on a device, and it would post a status update saying you had been to a kiosk at the conference. It wouldn’t be hard for the social network to partner with a concentration of local businesses in a specific city like Palo Alto and do a real-world beta of this technology soon.