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Facebook and Groupon apps add competing “Nearby” features for local discovery

@denschaal

Dec 18, 2012 11:31 am

Skift Take

Facebook’s and Groupon’s just-added Nearby features aren’t Yelp killers given its depth of user reviews, but they are right in Yelp’s kitchen.

— Dennis Schaal

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Facebook launched its Nearby feature, and so did Groupon.


It’s all in the ‘hood at Facebook and Groupon as both brands within days added or updated identically named Nearby features in their mobile apps.

Together with Airbnb and Hipmunk launching neighborhood-oriented features, as well as Google’s big local push last week with Google Maps for iOS and an upgraded Google + app, and buttressed by the GPS powers built into smartphones and tablets these days, there hasn’t been this much focus on “local” since Yuppies discovered dilapidated-urban brownstones in the 1980s.

Facebook’s and Groupon’s doting attention to nearby restaurants has been an unappetizing development for restaurant-review company Yelp, which has seen its stock price drop nearly 7% over the last five days.

Facebook is in the process of rolling out its updated Nearby feature for iOS and Android.

Previously in the Facebook Nearby feature you could only view places such as restaurants and hotels that your friends had checked into, but the update enables you to search for categories of businesses in close proximity, call them from your phone, and share recommendations with friends.

The reason the Nearby update is noteworthy isn’t necessarily because it breaks new ground, but because it comes from Facebook, which says 150 million people visit Facebook Pages on a daily basis, and half of these visits come from mobile visitors in the U.S.

Still, the Nearby feature likely won’t be the most-frequented one in the Facebook app as users are much more likely to look to the News Feed and Messages functions.

Deal delivery engine

Groupon also sees a Nearby opportunity and has introduced the appropriately named feature in its iOS and Android apps.

After giving the app permission to use your current location, the Groupon Nearby feature offers Groupons for area restaurants, spa treatments, and other local deals, spelling out each one’s distance from your location.

Much to Yelp’s apparent chagrin, an inordinate amount of the Nearby Groupon deals are for restaurants — Yelp’s bread and butter.

These Nearby updates from Facebook and Groupon, along with news that black-car and taxi startup Uber integrated Foursquare to facilitate the search for local pickup and dropoff locations, and Apple is talking to Foursquare about feeding its local data into the beleagured Apple Maps, means the push for neighborhood-oriented information is unrelenting.

If it hasn’t already, these Nearby and local features are coming to a place near you very soon.

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