Since when is the answer to a lagging product multiplying the crappiness and thinking that somehow twice as much of what already isn’t working will somehow do better? Apparently since now, based on reports this week of Foursquare splitting into two apps.
It’s been almost a year since I’ve written about Foursquare, and even then my feeling was that it had already jumped the shark. At this point, it’s become the app that you just stick with out of loyalty and maybe some tiny vestige of competitiveness over your worthless mayorships. I personally still use Foursquare very sporadically--when I do it’s either to track which movies I’ve seen so I can do my movie recap post at the end of the year and to maintain my mayorship of AMC Theaters because that’s about all I have to show for spending hundreds of dollars a year on my weekly movie theater treks. Occasionally it’s interesting to see where my friends are checking in, but it’s certainly not to leave helpful reviews of places or for the totally random ads they now serve up with check-ins--ads for Orbit gum when I check in at the movie theater (movie theaters don’t sell gum) or El Jimador tequila when I check in at work (I usually don’t check in at work, but just tried to see what ad would result...apparently tequila and work are supposed to go together?).
I think that Foursquare thinking that they even have a tiny chance of upstaging Yelp in the online reviews category is just a little sad...it’s never going to happen. Why not? As of last December, Foursquare claimed 45 million active users, but usage is dwindling. Yelp claims 120 million active monthly users, and expanding. People used Foursquare, back when they used it, to check in to places. The quality of “tips” on places (Foursquare parlance for reviews), if there are any at all, is, in my experience, extremely low and either of the “make sure to lock your car because mine got broken into” variety or “get the cheeseburger!” quips. No stars, which is the whole point of using Yelp to find places you’d want to go--or avoid. People who use Foursquare are compulsive--the kind of people who check in places because it’s what they do when they get to a place. Now Foursquare is going to mess up that routine by removing the check-in functionality entirely? Then forget it. I would anticipate Foursquare losing a ton of its existing users with this transition, and what’s going to attract new users to suddenly start leaving reviews on Foursquare instead of Yelp? What’s going to make Foursquare the one app that people choose for finding friends who are nearby when there are already apps like Social Radar and others, and Facebook is in the process of rolling out the exact same feature?
Sorry, Foursquare--it’s been fun and good luck with Swarm, but I think I’ll be taking a pass on the new two-pronged model, and I have a feeling I won’t be the only one.