Facebook Challenges Foursquare, Yelp with Check-In Services

On Wednesday, Facebook plunged into the location-based services market in a long-awaited move that should further popularize such mobile "check-in" services and establish Facebook as the leading player, writes Jon Swartz of USA Today.

Facebook Places lets mobile device owners with Facebook accounts share their exact location and find the whereabouts of their friends. The free service, starting to roll out now, can be accessed from iPhone, iPod Touch, Android devices, BlackBerry Torch and the iPad.

Facebook's entry legitimizes a burgeoning online service that is spreading quickly among consumers, advertisers and small businesses but is largely fragmented, says Greg Sterling, an independent social-networking analyst.

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