Visitors to the Facebook profile pages for any of the more than 20,000 restaurants that rely on OpenTable to secure online reservations can now square away their next table without having to leave Facebook.
This may not seem like such a big deal beyond the seamless nature of the act to desktop users where it's a breeze to crack open a new tab, but it will be huge for mobile users that can now stay on Facebook to complete dining reservations at area eateries.
This is good news for Facebook, but it's even better for OpenTable.
There has always been a healthy amount of skepticism when it comes to OpenTable. There are a growing number of cheaper alternatives, and there's always the fear that restaurant reviews website operator Yelp (NYSE: YELP) or Facbeook would emerge as a threat.
However, OpenTable's short interest has been cut by more than half over the past year, largely on the dot-com darling debunking the obsolescence myth.
It certainly hasn't hurt that OpenTable is four-for-four in besting Wall Street's profit targets over the past year, but the real clincher here is that OpenTable itself is growing.
Revenue climbed 15% to $45.6 million in its most recent quarter, fueled by a 12% uptick in its installed base of North American restaurants and a 25% spike in seated diners. In other words, the average restaurant is generating more reservations through OpenTable than it was a year earlier. The growth in Europe -- where OpenTable is still losing money for now -- is even greater.
After the rumblings of Yelp or Facebook taking on OpenTable by rolling out their own platform, it's probably not a surprise to see both sites integrating OpenTable ressies into their sites and apps. There are now 20,588 North American restaurants on the platform. Why try to duplicate that when you can cash in on the network effect by partnering with OpenTable?
Yelp did it before. Facebook is doing it now.
Cynic? Party of one? Your table's ready, and today's special is crow.
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