Facebook Places the Foursquare killer

Much was made this past week with Facebook releasing their location based tool – Places.  Much of the fanfare around the launch was more about the logo that Facebook chose to use –

Hmmmm funny looks like the number 4…in a square, and who is Facebook looking to destroy with this new app…Foursquare! And they will do so, as well as Gowalla the other contender to own this space. Why? Simply put these two creators of the location based social services do not have any real differentiators to avoid being overwhelmed by the social media 800lb gorilla. Of course if you asked them they are less boring!

  • Yes Gowalla uses GPS to ensure that where you “check in” is really where you say you are, but since you are checking in via a smart-phone and since they all tend to already have GPS how hard will it be for Places to leverage this technology if needed?
  • Foursquare and Gowalla users have been more selective to who they include in their network. I agree with this partially. The more I thought about this I realized that the average user on Facebook has 130 friends, a lot? Well when you consider there are some with friends in the 1000s or higher you realize that many have single digit friends in their network. To me this means these users will not distinguish between someone they want to have as a friend on Facebook versus someone to follow them on Foursquare or Gowalla.
  • Foursquare and Gowalla have a switching costs vis a vis the levels users have reached. Um okay. Until that digital trophy or star I have pays the rent, gets me a job or puts clothing on my kids the switching cost is minimal. It just means I will need to check in faster with Places to get back to that “level.” I am also quite certain that Facebook will develop the cute and fun awards you earn!
  • Location location location, since the location based locations are created by the community, how hard will that be for Facebook to leverage its enormous network to build up? Plus Facebook Places allows you to check in to virtual locations, something the others cannot do yet.

I just do not see services like Foursquare and Gowalla being able to beat the network effect and sheer mass that Facebook will bring to the table. For Facebook it is an easy “sell” to its users – you are already using Facebook as your hub for social media and it is more geared towards the personal side of social media so adding a location based service, one of the most personal of social  media, is a natural extension.

I would also surmise that heavy users of Foursquare are also on Facebook, but the inverse is not necessarily the case. For those on Facebook but not Foursquare, why go through the process of rebuilding a network when you can just leverage the one you already have. Those of us who have used Foursquare and Gowalla we are probably already on Facebook, and since we will have more friends leveraging Places we will certainly not want to allow some location based rookie become mayor or have cooler stamps that us!

It was nice to have you around Foursquare and Gowalla, I wish I had more time to checkin with  you.


1 Comment

Filed under Location Based Applications, Social media, Technology

One response to “Facebook Places the Foursquare killer

  1. Pingback: Gowall and Foursquare still around. « The Thinking Frog

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