Foursquare: A wasted opportunity?

It’s 2009. A new location-based social networking website for mobile devices has been launched. Four years later, and the platform has an estimated 35 million users worldwide. But what happened to that social network, and did it ever achieve its full potential?

I am of course talking about Foursquare, the social network that pioneered the ‘check-in’ craze and rewarded users for visiting places and ‘checking-in’. Foursquare managed to integrate GPS and social media effectively, rewarding users with badges and mayorships purely from checking-in.

In 2009, location and ‘checking in’ was cool. It’s now 2013 and I feel like Foursquare hasn’t really moved on. Foursquare had a good concept and a widely used API, but they never really took it further beyond the one-dimensional check-in.

The likes of Facebook saw what Foursquare was doing and jumped on the bandwagon, introducing ‘Facebook Places’, where users can integrate the location-based function with their usual sharing of photos, videos, or basic status updates. Facebook has even taken location-based search to the next level with the introduction of Graph search, which is still being rolled out to many users’ accounts.

Unfortunately, Foursquare has been slow to react. The social network has recently introduced a new feature which allows users to check-in friends when you’re out together. According to Foursquare:

“You can now check-in your friends when you’re out together. Instead of you and four friends each pulling out your phone to check in at dinner, now one of you can do it for everyone.”

A nice feature, don’t get me wrong, but it’s something that Facebook has already been doing for a while. And it sums Foursquare up really, a social network that has fallen behind in the pecking order behind the newer and much flashier Pinterest, Google Plus and Instagram. So what’s next?

Do you use Foursquare? What do you think of the new changes to the site?

© Sean MacEntee “Foursquare check in screen” Photo. Added Feb 2011, used July 2013.

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