The five-year old New York-based company, in an effort to build revenue, has finally completed the reboot it began earlier this year. When Foursquare began it allowed users to “check-in” with their mobile phones to let their friends now where they were. It was a strange combination of creepy and braggadocio. Users who felt the need to constantly be tracked simply hit a large check-in box that shared their location yet few let their friends now when they drunkenly stopped at Taco Bell. More often it was used for expensive eateries or restaurants where reservations alluded most people.
No more checking in, that’s for Swarm
Gone is the check-in, Foursquare’s original feature largely due to Facebook offering the same service in 2010. Foursquare also launched its Swarm app in May which allows you to continue to check-in something that you can no longer do with its namesake app. Somewhat surprisingly, Swarm has seen pretty strong user growth. Foursquare says. “It’s been pretty intense keeping up with the growth (Foursquare didn’t have that many users for a few years), and you guys have sent a ton of feedback,” the company said, in a blog detailing some upcoming features for Swarm.
The new app which launched today for Android and iOS is taking a bit of a gamble by asking users to give up their privacy in a day and age where most want more. Your smartphone will send near constant passive location information back to Foursquare so the company can push you notifications about things that you’re interested in as you near their physical locations.
“To actually get an app to talk to you like a friend would talk to you. That’s what we’re going at here, and I think we’ve done a really good job of it,” says Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley.
That’s all well and good and may see users return to Foursquare if they start receiving pertinent information. That, however, may be tempered by the amount of data you are sending out according to some.
“These location data collection schemes create a honeypot for malicious actors,” says Adi Kamdar, a staff activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “People tend to forget that these features are on, providing little benefit to the user while sending heaps of interesting—and personal—data over to companies.”
Foursquare going after Yelp?
It could also be argued that Foursquare is taking direct aim at Yelp and its revenue stream and success with the new app.
In March, Foursquare’s CEO called Yelp Inc (NYSE:YELP) (and Google) “incredibly broken.” While Foursquare vice president of product management Noah Weiss in a call to VentureBeat yesterday said,“If all of our tastes are different, then why should we all get the same search results?”
Even the announcement of the app in a blog on the Foursquare website today seemed to paint a bulls-eye on the back of Yelp.
“There’s no reason why we should all get the same recommendations when looking for a place to eat, drink or shop. Getting a one-size-fits-all list of places may have been innovative in 2006, but it feels downright antiquated now.”
And Yelp can hardly argue that.