Dinner Reservations à la Facebook with OpenTable

In a perfect example of how APIs can enhance an application to make it more useful and productive, Facebook announced it is integrating OpenTable in its mobile app. If you are a Facebook user, you can now book reservations on your mobile phone via a restaurant’s Facebook page, without leaving to go to another application.

In this move, Facebook finally brings useful functionality to its business users. In the past, there wasn’t much value in a business having a Facebook page, other then to list basic information, such as address, menu items and calendar events, and allow Facebook users to “like” them.

Liking a business on Facebook was more of a way to rally behind it than anything else. Other than that, liking a business only meant it would show up in your newsfeed, so that you were essentially pushing more advertising out to your Facebook friends, which not everyone appreciated.

Useful functions such as OpenTable actually give businesses a reason for existing on Facebook. It also puts Facebook in more direct competition with Yelp, which already has OpenTable integration.

According to Facebook, over 800 million people access their pages monthly via a mobile device. Now those users will be able to book tables in the over 20,000 restaurants across North America served by OpenTable from within their mobile phones. You don't need an OpenTable account to make a reservation either.

In another change, FaceBook is also adding TV listings to its mobile app. If your favorite television show or movie has a Facebook page, now you can go to those pages and see the next local time and TV channel it is playing on. The listings are based on current time zones, so it is similar to a TV Guide listings on Facebook.

So now, it is dinner and a show. Both of these moves give people a reason to use Facebook and visit Facebook pages more often. And both were accomplished by integrating APIs into the Facebook product.

Be sure to read the next Mobile article: Apigee Enters New Geography and Emphasizes Mobile API Strategy