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Is it Over for Location Check-in Apps?




Foursquare has always been the leader in the location check-in app battle. For a little while, though, Gowalla was looking like some real competition. Then Facebook bought Gowalla and on March 10, 2012, they shut them down.

Yes. Gowalla has gone-walla.

This would seem like good news for Foursquare but it might just be a sign of the times. A sign that location-based check-ins aren’t on trend anymore.

Earlier this month, Foursquare’s CEO Dennis Crowley spoke with TechCrunch about the future of the business.

“People are using the app, but they’re not checking in. I asked myself: did we break something? But in fact, it’s because people are using Foursquare to look for where their friends are, to find things, and as a recommendation service. It’s almost like it doesn’t occur to them to check in.”

This would appear to be bad news, but Crowley says it’s just the nature of the beast. And instead of fighting the crowd, they’re going with it, shifting the emphasis from check-ins to recommendations and content.

Kudos to Crowley for seeing the need and rolling with it. There have been those before him that refused to give up on their vision, even when the audience made it clear they wanted different glasses.

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So while Foursquare may not be going the way of their competitor Gowalla, it does make you wonder about the whole concept of location-based check-ins. Now that the novelty has worn off, are we done with them? Google obviously doesn’t think so since they recently added check-in to their Latitude service.

For me, it’s all about the “gimmie.” If you want me to check-in on your platform, you’ll have to offer me something more than a kick up the leaderboard or a virtual sticker. Give me points for prizes or instant deals and then maybe I’ll let you know where I stand — literally.

  • http://michaeldorausch.com/ Michael Dorausch

    While walking in the Marina near my house this weekend I heard a couple debating which businesses they should check in to (as they walked along the outdoor walkway). The excitement may be over for many but I don’t think use has quite worn off yet, at least in the case of Foursquare.

  • http://www.isociallabs.com Krishna Shah

    I don’t think it is over. It is just beginning. There are many new apps are coming up with cool idea to use checkin. Once it becomes main stream then all other will start using check-in.

    • http://Collectivebias.com John Andrews

      I completely agree, LBS is evolving and growing as providers understand how people use them in practical terms. Path is a great example of how LBS Is evolving to include different types on content generation and aggregation. It’s also a super-valuable tool for marketers and retailers to better understand path to purchase behavior.

  • http://www.wesource.com Joshua

    When checkins first started I was surprised people were so willing to tell the world their every move. Now it seems common to check in and tell your friends where you are going. Do you think that Facebook just dominates the checkin space now?

  • http://www.flickr.com/people/zigabid/ zigabid flickr

    I should digg your article so other people can look at it, very helpful, I had a hard time finding the results searching on the web, thanks.

  • Merrick

    I think Foursquare is stuck in check ins only, while other applications, like Path, appeared with many stuff to add to your check in, ok, is like a facebook, but better than foursquare if Path succeed

  • http://www.orbitalalliance.com Simon Yohe

    It definitely gets old after a while. Another issue that makes it not as much fun in the case of FourSquare is that for many places, it is impossible to become “Mayor”, as an employee of that location has that completely secure. There needs to be a push for some sort of reward/benefit by the location for reaching certain plateaus of check-in items. i tend to only really check into locations that are either new or have specials/offers highlighted.

    • Cynthia Boris

      Interesting comment. People really do enjoy seeing those little perks and if there’s no chance of cracking the top spots, it does take some of the fun out of it.

      The only checking in I do while out is Shopkick because I’m earning points and discounts.

  • http://oysterdesign.co.uk Anna Percival

    I really don’t like the check-in function. Hate it especially on facebook etc – if they check-in, that’s when i check-out of their network. God I sound old!!