Friends on Fire Eagle

picture-20Yahoo!’s Fire Eagle location enabling service has been relatively quiet since coming out of beta several months ago.

Many people didn’t initially know what it was or intended to do. Fire Eagle isn’t a destination or application in itself. It is a way to set (manually or automatically) your location so that third party sites or publishers could then tap into it and deliver more precise content. Privacy was well safeguarded by a range of tools; Google borrowed the manual location setting from Fire Eagle for its Latitude service.

When Dan Miller and I met with Yahoo!’s Marc Davis we asked about the status of Fire Eagle and he said it was alive and well. Apparently so.

Today Yahoo! announced a Fire Eagle Facebook application called “Friends on Fire” that enables location sharing with Facebook contacts:

We’ve made an application called Friends on Fire that brings together Facebook and our Fire Eagle project to help you quickly and easily share your location with your trusted friends. And you can post little messages on the map, too, to recommend bars or restaurants, or to suggest meeting up for a beer!


Yahoo! also announced a Firefox extension that allows users to update Fire Eagle from the browser. Firefox has its own location-sensing/setting tool in Geode.


These efforts are smart to raise the visibility of Fire Eagle and get developers and publishers to use it. Google’s Geolocation for Gears offers similar functionality.

These moves are part of the larger push around location online, which I’ve discussed at length before. IP targeting (or registration) used to be the only way to get a user’s location unless she entered it into a search box. Now there are an emerging array of ways, including those above.

Back to Facebook for a moment. Location is a huge opportunity for Facebook (especially in mobile) that’s currently underutilized. Of course Facebook was all about location in the early days (college and high school identities). But since it has opened up to the mainstream it has not taken full advantage of all the location information and/or the potential it offers as a local utility for both businesses and users. The Oodle powered marketplace uses location of course.

But when will Facebook proper wake up to the local opportunity?


Related: In fact, I had forgotten, that Facebook has beefed up local ad targeting.


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