large_4147791422OpenTable has released a Facebook application to help friends connect around food. Places I’ve Eaten will let diners rate restaurants, see where friends are dining, and find great places for dining out.

My question: Won’t Facebook Graph support this kind of thing natively?

The app is basic and beautiful, providing a gorgeous full-screen window into the restaurants you and your friends visit, with large images, a map view, and simple ratings capability. You can share recommendations, discover new spots, and yes, memorialize your inner gourmet.

Places I've Eaten

Above: Places I’ve Eaten

Image Credit: OpenTable

What it makes me think, however, is: Why now?

Why is OpenTable, probably the largest restaurant reservation service available, with its 27,000 restaurants and 400 million users, releasing a Facebook app? Sure, Facebook is the place where well over a billion people get together and talk about their day, including where they ate, but that’s been the case for some time now.

My guess — and it’s just a guess — is that Facebook Graph has a lot to do with the genesis of this app.

Facebook Graph has the potential to replace a huge swath of the local-search, local-events landscape that OpenTable, Yelp, various Yellow Pages incarnations, and other companies service. Places I ate at would be a simple search in Graph, as would places my friends ate at. Implementing this potential, of course, is a whole other thing. And exploiting the financial opportunity is yet another.

So Facebook has a long way to go, and partners will continue to be important for the social network for a long time.

But make no mistake: Facebook is the big kahuna in social, and Graph is the path that will help it monetize that status. As such, services like OpenTable and Yelp and at risk.

Which I’m pretty sure is not lost on them.

photo credit: » Zitona « via photopin cc

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