I think that I finally “get” Foursquare. I’ve been using it since I moved to NYC, and it’s been useful to me in that time, but it always seemed like fun with a little bit of utility. I no longer think that’s the case, and as it grows, it is going to be incredibly useful, with the fun being a great way to get people onboard and engaged.
The easiest way for me to describe how I view Foursquare is with a small thesis. Humans crave accurate, reliable, rich, and easy-to-digest information. This consists of Who?, What?, When?, Where?, Why? (and sometimes How?). Let’s look at the landscape of mega-information offerings that are dominating the web landscape.
Who? – Facebook, LinkedIn
What? – Google, Twitter
When? – I think this is a wide-open market, and will follow up with another post on the topic
Where? – Foursquare, Gowalla
Why? – Google, Wikipedia
Foursquare is emerging as the Where of the web, and it involves a whole lot more than check-ins. I don’t have any insider information with them, but I can certainly imagine a taste of what’s in store for us. Imagine this night in the life of a model Foursquare user in 3 years.
A Foursquare night…
6:30pm: Planning on leaving work in 15 minutes. You start a poll/chat among your friends over which of 3 bars you’re going to meet up at.
6:45pm: Leave work. The gang decided on Flight 151 (who can resist $2 PBR?). You check in, and your friends know that everyone is indeed getting together.
6:50pm: The waitress knows that you’re a regular, but free under-the-table drinks don’t help management keep track of their best customers. The culture has shifted to recognizing your check-in and sending over a complimentary glass of your favorite to get the night started (I mean, duh, you are the freakin’ mayor, right?)
7:00pm: Everybody else has shown up. There are enough of you here that Foursquare recognizes your “group.” Whoa! There’s another Google group in the back? We didn’t even see them. Let’s go say hi.
8:30pm: Time to move on. The waitress pulls up the list of who is checked in at the Flight, and selects your account. She puts the drinks on your tab. Aren’t you glad you tied a credit card to your Foursquare account? Your Foursquare preferences have your default tip set to 15%, but you can change that one from your phone, or maybe just in the morning when you’ve slept it off.
8:35pm: Where to next? There’s a cool new bar 20 blocks away that’s swarming like crazy. Sounds like a good time. Guess it’s going to be one of those nights… You hit the “cab” button, and it gives you an eta of 3 minutes. It’s pretty convenient when your phone knows where you are.
8:55pm: Grand opening badges? Meh, I got a whole trunk full, but it is certainly a nice testament to my social life. Let the festivities begin. Leave you phone in your pocket and enjoy the night.
11:10pm: Two of your buddies just showed up. They saw all of you guys checked in here and didn’t want to miss out on the fun!
12:20pm: The bartender is killing it! You give them a vouch on Foursquare. With how strong she’s making your drinks, it would be a crime not to let the manager know that she’s the reason you’ll be back.
1:45pm: I’m starving. Whoa!! Yelp’s best-rated pizza in the city is right around the corner? Done!
… the next morning …
10:10am: Who was that cute girl is was talking to for an hour last night? I got distracted by a group of friends that came by, and when I went looking for her, she was gone. Guess I’ll go back and check who was at the bar. Oh! There she is. I’ll drop her a line to see if she’s interested in lunch tomorrow.
10:13am: Rate the bar a 4 out of 5. It was a good night.
I envision Foursquare as being a source of real-time information about the social world that’s going on directly around you. It’s like your own personal social Batphone.
I think there’s a lot of integration that can be done with Yelp that would benefit both parties. As they both grow, however, I think they’ll start stepping on each others’ toes a whole lot. I’m interested to see how that clash develops.