About 30 million people have tried Facebook places, a single source who works with Facebook tells us.
Reached for a response to this number, Facebook rep Larry Yu told us, “[I] don’t have any guidance to offer right now, I’m afraid.”
Not a denial.
Anyway, our source’s number sounds reasonable to us.
On its “latest statistics” page, Facebook says “there are more than 150 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices.”
Does this mean Foursquare, the startup Facebook Places most closely copies, is doomed? It only has 4 million users. It had an offer to sell to Yahoo this summer for more than $100 million. Should CEO Dennis Crowley have taken the money and run?
Surprisingly, the answer to both those questions might still be “no.”
We monitored three locations in New York for five weeks and found that Foursquare’s four million users checked-in way more at those locations. Here’s the chart we made with the data. Foursquare check-ins are in blue, Facebook Places, in red:
There could be some other explanations for the disparity between the number of Facebook Places users and the number of check-ins.
Foursquare was created in New York. It’s possible that, in other cities, Facebook Places is much more popular and Foursquare is much less popular. We imagine there are places in the midwest where everyone’s grandma is on Facebook and no one has heard of Foursquare.
We also could have picked the three non-representative check-in locations.
But the idea that Facebook Places has lots of users who don’t use it much feels right. Lots of people we know use Facebook mobile – Facebook says 50 million iPhone owners do – and we hardly every see check-ins in our News Feed. Certainly the number is far lower than the number of mobile upload photos we see.
Also, we hear Foursquare tracks this kind of check-in data and has seen similar trends.
What does this many-users-to-few-active-users mean for Facebook’s business?
- Local business don’t need to rush into figuring out Facebook’s new ad product for Places.
- Facebook revenues, which we expect a 2010 number close to $2 billion, won’t surge past that number this year due to Places.
For Foursquare, the take-away is: PHEW!
For the rest of us, the lesson is this: Just because a web-service has scale in one product (or even several) doesn’t mean it will be able to sudden scale a new product – even if it floods that new product with temporary users.
(We’ve learned this less before, of course. Google teaches it best, rolling out products like Buzz and Wave to crickets.)
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.