Scobleizer: Foursquare, Gowalla maybe bigger than Twitter revisited

About five weeks ago Robert Scoble wrote a blog post wondering whether location-based service/game Foursquare could become bigger than Twitter. After listening to the 10/15/2009 Gillmor Gang (video) I am inclined to at least give in to “Twitter is nice, but we ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Here is the money quote, from one of the guys behind drop.io if I remember correctly:
“Checking in to a spot is easier than tweeting.”
Read that again and consider how – once you grokked the concept – how easy Twitter works.
And keep in mind that checking in to a location contains much more contextual data, like frequency, which friends go there, what actions where undertaken.

Are you getting the picture?

Are you keeping in mind the metadata deals Twitter did with Google and Microsoft this week? Are you keeping in mind that both Foursquare and Gowalla let users update their Twitter-streams with one click?

As of now, Twitter data as such is still pretty stupid. What I mean by that is is unstructured, not very semantic. Consider adding location info, not only via GPS but structured and with knowledge about who else is there…what could you do with that?

One guest of the show mentioned that his new scale can now automatically send weight and bmi via wifi to a server. Think of nike+. Think of what kind of food suggestions you might get when you next stop at a restaurant, using all of this data.

I am not sure if it will be Foursquare or Gowalla, it doesn’t matter. What matters is: “Checking in is much easier than sending a tweet!”

  • In just a year and a half of smartphone usage, I’ve played with a number of location based service (e.g. plazes, aka-aki, brightkite) all of which didn’t provide any added value to me and I’ve stopped using them. Main reason being that the number of users just hasn’t reached critical mass. But Twitter has. Twitter’s value is location independent. I agree that once in a while it might be interesting or handy to add a meta-layer of location info to Twitter. But the fact that is has been rudimentary so far hasn’t stopped it from being successful.

    The main obstacles in my pov to mass adoption of LBS is usability (it does take more than a few clicks because GPS on smartphones is almost never precise to the meter), and fear.

    Fear of data breaches, of privacy issues, fear of social engineering (imagine a burglar checking if you’re abroad and emptying your appartment meanwhile). Fear is by far the biggest barrier to technology adoption. So in my view, LBS like Gowalla or Foursquare will probably never make it bigger than the geek niche.

    My 2ct. 🙂

  • Thank God you disagree. I am not saying Twitter will go away. And I am not saying LBS will be big next October. But LBS will make the data much more useful, I really think that. And when you have more apps that leverage this, you’ll get the traction. Gowalla e.g. is so easy to use, once a spot/place is there (takes one line of text and three clicks) you need two clicks to sign in. That is easier than Tweeting I think. And with the traction the iPhone has, Android to come most likely…
    😉