Foursquare: Is it really a game changer?

Posted by in tools of the trade

As 2009 ended, like usual, we saw tons of blog posts and speculation about what’s in store for 2010. One common theme (that had even been hinted upon long before the end of the year) was “geo-location based apps” such as Foursquare, and now contender Gowalla.

While I definitely see a huge untapped potential for local businesses to take advantage of. At this point I don’t think Foursquare will be the next Twitter. From my perspective, there are a few growing problems with the tool.

  • Scalability – I think I was one of the first 50 or so users in Ottawa when Foursquare was launched here. I *loved* it! I used the handy web tools to find all my Twitter and Facebook friends and I already knew many of the other users. However, as it grows, the happy community feel is diminishing. Also unless you’re checking in over 200 times a week (which, even as a highly social person, I find that completely ludicrous) you don’t even have a chance at making the top 10 anymore. The competitor in me has lost interest.

    Also, a recent Tech Crunch article claims that appealing to a mass audience means compromising quirky features that appealed to the original geeks who embraced it. Douchebag badge anyone?

  • The annoyance factor – As I mentioned above, Foursquare allows you to import your Twitter followers and add them as friends in Foursquare. So that begs the question, why do so many feel the need to tweet their every Foursquare activity?

    This seems to be creating a counter-Foursquare movement by Twitter users who are fed up with the “spammy” foursquare updates. (With very smart people like Judy Gombita leading the way, see her passionate interview on one of my favourite blogs – MediaStyle)

  • And now what? – The reason tools like Twitter and Facebook have been so successful is the sense of empowerment they provide to users. Facebook allowed us all to re-connect and better stay connected to old friends and past acquaintances. Twitter taught us a new and powerful way to communicate and network in 140 characters or less.

    But Foursquare does what? Enables stalkers to function more efficiently? Yes, it’s really cool when you check in at an event and find other people there as well, but Twitter already does that via hashtags, and has a much larger user-base. Foursquare has a lot of ‘hey that’s really cool’ elements to it, but nothing that is going to set of bells in our heads and make us feel like we couldn’t live without it.

For the record–I am an avid user of Foursquare. It’s fun and I definitely see staying power potential, I just don’t envision it as the next big thing anymore. What do you think?