Check-In or not Check-In
It’s a very interesting one as it talks about privacy too. I don’t want to go into details about this service (maybe in another post) but primarily focus on the already mentioned geo-location based apps available for most of our smartphones and gives a brief description of those.
You install the app, and everytime you go to a place, you “checkin” and you get badges and so forth. With Gowalla, you can even add pictures of the places. Facebook now entered this checkin-checkout “business” recently with the Facebook Places through which you basically the same thing (allowing all your Facebook friends to know where you are). They all require a GPS (or an A-GPS) and they are based on Google Maps and Bing Maps mostly.
Of course in this social-digital era, all these apps are linked to some of the most popular websites/social networks so you can connect everyone of them with Twitter and Facebook, apparently the most popular “digital environments” in which users are and connect through each other (although Brightkite has a Facebook-like approach making it totally independent).
You can also add places if you can’t find yours (could be a restaurant, a bar, a shop, whatever) and get some recognitions about that.
What they are not? They are not applications like TripAdvisor with which you can write a review about that. I mean, you could but if you check-in in a restaurant before entering it (this is what most of the users do), how can you possibly write a review about your experience? Yes you could but you need to go there again or check-in again after your lunch/dinner (check-out? )
There are 3 main questions on top of my head:
1) What’s the business around that
2) Why users should stick to this “game”
3) Who’s gonna win.
1) The first one is pretty easy: for Foursquare, for example, many Companies realized the potential of it and so they are publicizing their offers through their Foursquare accounts. Also, when you check-in in a particular place, there’s a chance you can get a 5% to 10% discount to that shop (probably if you check-in multiple times).
Also, many exhibits and conferences usually add their locations, including a description of the event, so the attendees can have a more complete experience on the event and have fun checking in everyday. But it’s business, remember. Let’s call it “Business 2.0” but it’s still business. It has the same potential as when an event shows up tweets on the main webpage, making attendees to use a particular hash-tag.
2) Foursquare, for example, is pretty popular in the US (although it crossed the ocean and became popular in Europe and Asia as well) and people from, say, New York and San Francisco, are massive users of it. But I got this question several times: “why should I do it” or “isn’t that childish” or even “what about my privacy”?. I get it, and I partially agree. Users are addicted, that’s the main answer. Also, users want to share things through these applications so, say you’re with some friends in a place, you check-in together with a group photo (there’s an application called PicPlz with which you can even tag friends before actually uploading the photo!). But it’s not as childish as it seems. Isn’t that childish to go and post YouTube videos on Facebook ? Isn’t that childish to post your real-time experiences on Twitter? Isn’t that childish to connect and share ideas and content with each other? NO ! That is why we have all these features and services around. Do you know anyone not being on Facebook nowadays? I probably know 2 people that are not in there. Do you know anyone who’s not using LinkedIN for connect with others for business purpose? Very few I guess.
So, believe it or not, many people are using these apps and, no matter what the purpose is, They like it. and that is set in stone !
The point, at least for me but probably for many other people, is: who’s gonna rule the market? Who’ll be the winner? You can’t check-in with 3 or 4 different apps (some people do though ). Years ago, probably around 2007, there were other real-time micro-blogging engines (like Jaiku for example) but eventually Twitter won.
Probably there won’t be a single “winner” application but we’ll get even more applications and services with added value in them (making the competition tougher). And the user will decide what’s best for him/her, perfectly in line with our digital/social era we are living.
Probably during LeWeb, the most important Web 2.0 event in the World, there’s gonna be some announcements about the future but, having heard that there are tons of startups there in Paris as exhibitors, I’m sure no one will be the winner but the user will (or he/she will became addicted, your choice )
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