With all the sophisticated navigation, family finding and search applications on the market, it’s interesting to see that a simple mobile app based on checking in to locations to earn status “badges” is what is taking the location-based services world by storm. Social broadcasting app Foursquare has been unstoppable in the past few months, opening up its API, signing up partners from a wide array of industries and tripling traffic to its site in the two months following November.
The app is based on incentivizing 400,000+ users to check into locations in their area. It rewards them for broadcasting their location to friends with virtual badges, dubbing them “newbie” or “mayor” (or controversially “douchebag”) of that location. The service also automatically sends updates to Twitter and Facebook if the user elects to do so.
Foursquare started out primarily focused on nightlife and local bars, but the company has expanded its prowess significantly. It announced today it has signed up restaurant rating guide Zagat to award users with a “foodie” badge, as well as offer reviews and recommendations. The partnership comes just a few weeks after Foursquare inked a deal with network Bravo Media. According to reports, Foursquare is also in talks with HBO, Warner Brothers and the History Channel, among others, to offer badges relevant to their shows.
As Foursquare continues to gain in popularity with users â€“ they know have more than a million check-ins per week, as well as cash in on entertainment and sponsorships, the app has a real chance at making money, something sites like Twitter have struggled with. That means that Foursquare is quickly becoming an app to be reckoned with, even for the wireless operators that used to dominate the location landscape.
These operators are still interested in the opportunity, but they have been slower moving. AT&T took its FamilyMap app mobile this week and also recently launched an invite-only alpha Web site, buzz.com, to help users find the best local businesses using recommendations from their friends and family. AT&T stressed it didn’t want to copy Foursquare in building a social-networking site, but that wouldn’t be such a bad idea. The social media-driven desire to share experiences in real-time is becoming an increasingly important theme. It is why Google today introduced Google Buzz, a new service that integrates social statuses with its email platform, Gmail. It is also why Foursquare could go mainstream in the very near future.
I’m a brand new Foursquare user â€“ not yet the mayor of anything â€“ so I am still figuring out the appeal of the service. I’d love to hear the impressions of any of you Foursquare fans. What do you think â€“ is there a place for wireless operators in the social web, or will apps like Foursquare rein?