Monday, March 23, 2009

It's not about Location... duh!

If I had a dollar for every time someone mentioned foursquare during a panel or keynote at SXSWi last week I would be super... Ok, maybe I'd have about 60 dollars. Which is a lot considering I only attended about 6 sessions in all (bah... and missed out on the "panel nerd" badge as a result... whaa!).

The point is that Foursquare's debut at SXSWi was simply put, a success. We all loved it and continue to love it!

The irony is that it is about the millionth LBS application to see the light of day. Worse yet, many of the check-ins were likely done over SMS given AT&T's stellar performance during the conference. Worse yet... it is a resurrection of Dodgeball.

The reality is that the majority of Foursquare's new fan base has tried many of its precursors (from the mobile operators' friend finders, to Loopt, to Dodgeball, to Brightkite). This explains how easily we adopted it - Yes, we got it. But the thing is that not only did we start using it right away without the need for a step by step explanation of why and how to use it, but we also could not stop ourselves. This never happened with any of Foursquare's predecesors.

So at last someone seems to have finally gotten it right.

First it's fun -

Foursquare is unique in that it turns the potentially cumbersome task of providing your location into something you actually want to, cannot wait to do. Why? Because it is a game! And as with games you earn points, you compete, you win prizes (badges), you get to PWN your friends by becoming "the mayor" of a bar. Next thing you know you can't stop yourself. Next thing you know you catch yourself having horrible dark thoughts about checking into a place you're not even at!

Second, it's useful -

Much like what Yelp, Rateitall, or Google Maps could do, foursquare gives you location based recommendations. The beauty of these recommendations from a contextual and cost perspectives is that they have been provided by the user community. What is even more beautiful is that from a monetization perspective this could be a very valuable capability. For years companies like Cellfire have been toiling with this concept. But again, what was missing was the fun part.

Back in September I summarized this teen survey which concluded with the very astonishing revelation that (gasp! OMG) generation-m did not care for friend-finder applications. I guess we'll just have to see if they change their mind once they PLAY foursquare.


  1. Wait, who are generation M?? Have certain someones usurped me and my era?

    Love my iPhone, but I'm still too stodgy for LBS activities... am I too old for the Foursquare generation?

  2. Foursquare just launched an iTouch app as well... hurrah!