From the day tech-media has risen from 2005-06 with the likes of Techcrunch etc, every year something or the other has been media’s darling. For example,

  • 2005 – Blogging
  • 2006 – Rise of push social media (btw its different from ambient social media which has recently cropped up)
  • 2007 – Facebook
  • 2008 – Twitter
  • 2009 – Foursquare
  • 2010 – ??? (even though 2 months are left, but this pointless award would go to all flash sales biz model with Groupon taking the cup with a long shot)
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Now going back to the topic which is about Foursquare, I’ve to start the story from almost two years back. In the yr 2008, I got myself a smartphone to take deep dive into the world of apps & get a place for myself into the world of glorified geekism.checkinhere-cling Much to my surprise, the world that the likes of TC, GigaOm blah promised with the rise of iPhone apps, didn’t have anything for my Nokiaverse. Even though later it did, but adoption was so bleak amongst my deep social graph that sometimes I feel I’m the only one in the world who wants such apps & digital life.

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So thats that!

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So what happened about Foursquare? Okay, to be very frank I absolutely love the idea & execution till date. Those guys have really pulled it which many were still talking I remember in the yr ’06 with the rise of Secondlife etc.

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But clearly idea is something & execution from ground-up is different – and that too when we are considering about Indian context. I signed up in Foursquare I guess in the early days of ’10 but actually started using it a month or so back.

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Why – ‘coz I didn’t really feel that its of much use then. But after a good 10 months, when I saw that about 150 of my friends have franded me, thought of giving it a fair shot of my usage. Even though I’m not saying its not of any use but merchant adoption is the MOST IMPORTANT ingredient which will make or break the business model. I don’t know how US merchants are adapting (not the big ones but the smaller local merchants since it makes more sense on a day-t0-day basis to general users); but surely haven’t seen much Indian local merchants adoption.

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And that is the only reason IMHO which is the missing ingredient for Foursquare which is creating a rift between consumers & consumption point. ‘Coz after a certain point of time, it becomes utterly pointless to show where I’ve checked-in. Also there is no gratification for consumers who are taking the pain to check-in to merchant location (since 99.99% of Indian merchants’ near zero adoption of 4sq).

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A new company who got its share of media attention with its launch in mid August called Shopkick is trying to solve that problem with real check-ins & instant gratification in US (not in India yet).

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But deep inside dinosauric location based companies are & will face three biggest problems:

  1. merchant adoption
  2. user gratification
  3. fake check-ins
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Shopkick surely takes care of most of it but still I feel there is a small part which tickles me to believe that it still doesn’t have enough steam for stickiness. I’m talking about need gap of users – such stuff are ambient needs and users can stay without using it.

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Signing off for now!

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In the future, I’ll writing more about topics related to location, mobile, local business models etc.

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Note: Most of my experience I’ve shared is related to Indian context & my little bit of knowledge of running a hyperlocal/flash sales biz model.

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