I don’t get it. I feel like Josh Baskin listening to a pitch for robots that turn into buildings (skyskrapers). I’ve been using FourSquare for the past few weeks, and I can’t figure out how it improves my life in any way.
The premise of FourSquare (and other location-based services/games like GoWalla) is that you utilize the GPS function on your phone and let the service know when you patronize a business, thus letting your friends know what you’re up to as well. For teenagers on a weekend night, it sounds like a pretty good deal – you can use FourSquare to tell you what’s happening and where your friends are so you don’t miss any action.
But for a late-twenties married male, the appeal just isn’t there. Sure, Monday I let everyone know that I hit 24-Hour Fitness after work, and then swung by Lowe’s for another home improvement project, but who wants to hear about that?
To be useful to 95% of the population, FourSquare needs to change some things, and fast.
- Automatically check me in (as long as I give you permission): Let’s face it, I don’t always remember to “check-in” by searching for the business on my phone and hitting the necessary keys. If you do it for me, I’m much more likely to participate.
- Give me an incentive for using the site: Why should I check-in at Lowe’s? Well, if I get a 10% discount every 10th visit, I’m much more likely to participate. FourSquare could offer businesses an out-of-the-box loyalty program.
- Integrate: Tying into Yelp would allow me plug me into trusted business reviews. Tying into Facebook would allow me to interact with more friends. But as a stand-alone right now, it’s not adding a lot of value for me.
FourSquare has a lot of things going for it. It has an army of 1+ million users who have voluntarily cataloged most businesses and gathering places across America. It is way ahead of competitors.
But, I wonder will, it be able to maintain its current position. Early adopters are already bailing, asking similar questions to me. And I can’t imagine a second wave of users to appear. For Facebook, the 50+ year olds have taken the site by storm. But figuring out how to use (and the value of) a GPS-based phone service? Not likely.