Facebook’s New Places and Deals: Friend or Foe to Foursquare?

crowley art 1 Facebooks New Places and Deals: Friend or Foe to Foursquare?Mark Zuckerberg wouldn’t give hard numbers, but he said today that Facebook Places is several times larger than any other location based service.

“And that’s just on iPhone in the U.S.,” he said with a broad smile. “As of today we will be on Android and around the globe.”

That is crap-your-pants scary news for Foursquare, which has been growing fast, but is still nowhere near the size of Facebook, which today claimed 200 million mobile users. 

Foursquare’s PR chief Erin Gleason played down the announcement. “This is something we’ve been expecting for a while. They are doing the same thing a lot of different folks are doing and, while they claimed to be bigger than us, they didn’t give any hard numbers on users. Foursquare is growing fast and we’re going to be rolling out new features and announcing new partnerships with local businesses soon.”

As for the possiblity of integrating with Facebook Places API or universal login, Gleason says Foursquare is not planning anything at this time.

Facebook also announced a new Deals platform today that makes it simple for businesses to construct deals and offer it to local users who check in through Places.

This mobile-social-local space is exactly the business Foursquare has been building. When Facebook entered the location space back in August, it was clear that the two companies would be competing.

But the addition of local deals makes this battle more intense, because now the companies are competing not just for users, but for business partners as well. “We think our social layer is the thing the platformt will finally make location based services mainstream,” said Zuck.

At the same time, Facebook has opened up its location API and created a universal login for mobile apps. Foursquare may be able to capitalize on this to continue its turbo-charged growth and focus on its gaming element to differentiate itself from FB Places.

Just as side note, the location-based gaming service Scvngr was one of the lucky companies brought in to premier integration as a early partner at today’s mobile event.