Something funny happens whenever a new competitor or even a new player comes to the tech scene. People talk about the death of. Hulu was the death of YouTube. Every new Android phone is an iPhone killer.
If Facebook had their way they wouldn't become a replacement for every website or service on the web. Facebook doesn't want to replace Flickr or Amazon. Facebook wants to be the gateway to and smarts behind your experiences across the web.
Facebook started along this path with Facebook connect and more recently with Social PlugIns and the Graph API, but I'm pretty sure these are only the beginning. Whatever today's rumored check-in announcement will be, I can guarantee you that they will position it as opening up new opportunities for existing services like FourSquare rather than a proprietary service.
Why the Facebook Gospel Works
At it's core, Facebook's approach is to empower other services with the data and network Facebook already has. This works for Facebook for two reasons: this distributed network creates (a) new data for Facebook and (b) extended network value to Facebook's users both on Facebook and across the web.
This will generate not just extended utility to drive increased platform usaage but direct revenues as well. Eventually these relationships and broader data could power smarter advertising on Facebook and a network of Facebook engagement ads across verified third party sites.
What does this mean to mobile?
Right now, most of our mobile interactivity with Facebook is about either (a) Facebook's mobile app or mobile web site, or (b) pushing data back to Facebook from third party apps. What's noticably missing is the push messaging from Facebook. This push messaging is what powers the serendipity of FourSquare and unlocks untold value in the "background check-in". Smart push messaging via a distributed network will unveil new creative experiences far beyond simple check-ins and even loyalty programs at retail.
Facebook is sitting on the edge of something big and most importantly, something unique to Facebook's core equity offering. Good for them. Now it's time for smart marketers to ask, what can this do for me?