Facebook today took one more step in its ownership of the mobile space: today it expanded its Facebook Deals service into five markets in Europe. This service, part of Facebook Places, lets participating brands offer users deals on goods when they check in to a location using Facebook Places. This is the first international expansion extension of the Deals service since it launched in the U.S. in November.
Facebook has not given many status updates so far on how well Places is doing; this morning at the press launch in London, when asked, a spokesperson said “millions” were using the service.
Enhancements like Deals certainly give mobile check-in services an added dimension of usefulness, and stickiness, particularly in a market that is getting very crowded with the likes of Foursquare, Gowalla and many more. As such, it’s likely the direction that most of these check-in services will evolve (and some, like Loopt, have already).
Conversely, we’ll probably see deals sites like Groupon add more check-in functionality to make their services more mobile. (Groupon certainly does look like it’s gearing up to do a lot more in mobile, making some key hires in that space, such as Michael Shim, formerly of Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), late last week.)
As it was in the U.S., partners for the European launch of Facebook Deals are strictly large brands to start with: retailers like Starbucks (NSDQ: SBUX), the Sushi chain Yo!Sushi, and the department store Debenhams, which are offering free products to people who check in to their retail locations; the mobile operator O2; and Mazda are among the list.
Facebook is not getting a revenue share on the actual deal transactions, although you can imagine when and if Facebook starts to incorporate the means for paying for the deals, they may well get involved at that level, too.
For now, the move gives Facebook a chance to tie commerce in with its company fan pages, and it makes Facebook something that people will be more likely to use throughout the course of their day rather than just when they are passing time. That’s an area they are looking to enhance, as evidenced by their buy last week of the startup Rel8tion, which tracks hyper-local demographics.
Deals launches live in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy today.