With the recent influx of location based apps (coupled with the fact that I’m a bit – maybe a lot – of a location buff), I decided to write a post on the issue. Here’s my thoughts (and those of others):
The post – check-in era:
Location services have so far been all about checking into places and letting your friends know where you are. This is good (and fun), until users start getting ‘check-in fatigue’. This is bound to happen sometime soon with users asking, ’Ok, I’ve checked in; what next? ’, unless there’s continued innovation in this area. Such innovation could include:
At a recent event with Google’s chief of local, Marissa Mayer, she pointed out that in future location apps should add more value and functionality to check-ins by introducing what she termed as ‘contextual discovery’. This, as an effort to make check-ins more engaging and useful. Also, it’s consistent with Google’s ambition
For instance, you get to your office and get your work email synced on your phone, or your work-tagged Google tasks reminded; you check in at a restaurant and get tips from users and people who’ve been there before.
These concepts have been tried and tested, albeit not entirely, by Foursquare in particular. Foursquare attempts to add value to check ins by providing extra information, such as popular tips, friends’ recommendations, etc.
It will be interesting to see developments in this area with deeper integration with users’ data.
Arguably the principal challenge facing location based services is the implications on users’ privacy. Personally, I’m not particularly fervent on the privacy issue, but there’s lots of people who are; making it a concern that needs to be addressed.
In order to enjoy the full benefits of a location service, there is obviously some privacy that needs to be sacrificed – an opinion that’s shared with Marissa Mayer. For one, you have to let at least the app know where you are in order to receive relevant benefits.
There’s a rapidly increasing number of players in this space:
• Foursquare: Predominantly a location based mobile app, this service has 10 million users playing the check in game to earn points, unlock badges, and unlock specials from merchants registered with Foursquare.
• Facebook Places: A feature of the social networking app that lets users let friends know of their whereabouts (via Android and iOS apps) and have it published directly in their newsfeed. (that’s just a long way of saying it’s a foursquare clone that leverages on the high user base.)
• Google Latitude, Places, Plus: Yea, Google have never actually gotten it right in the local space. In my opinion, that’s because they let go of Dennis Crowley (foursquare founder). First was Dodgeball (Crowley’s acquired start-up), then now Latitude; but neither has actually cut the mustard. Google Plus reportedly (
I haven’t used it. Couldn’t get an invite) (finally got one – simply lets you check in to places and share with your circles of friends) has a location feature built into it. Whether it will be merged with Places and Latitude, we wait to see.
• Niko Hapa: Now this is a local start-up that seeks to enable businesses to reward loyal customers using the check-in model. What’s interesting about Nikohapa is that check-ins are via SMS or QR code scanning. Read more about it here.
Most bloggers have a conclusion, or closing statement. I don’t. I just sign out without warning…