Hey, Foursquare, a social network with about 250 times as many users as yours just incorporated your core functionality and even co-opted the term “check-in” that you’ve been trying to trademark. Is it time to move on?
Not so fast. Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley tweeted a few days ago, “Call from my 86 yr old grandma: ‘Hello. I want to know if this Face-Book is like yours. It sounds like Four-Squared, but without the fun.'” Grandma Crowley, apocryphal as she may be, speaks the truth. Foursquare is still more fun, and probably always will be compared to Facebook Places. That means a lot, for now.
When Facebook Places launched, I first checked in at my agency 360i’s office and then tried it from a number of other locations in subsequent days. Most of the time, I also used a number of other location-based apps such as Foursquare, Whrrl, Gowalla, Yelp, SCVNGR, and FoodSpotting. Even if I tire of some apps over time, I’m not giving up any solely because Facebook Places is here. Here are five reasons why:
1) It’s not easy to tell on Facebook Places who’s near you. Foursquare now includes maps to plot your friends’ whereabouts, and in general it’s better at detecting who’s really nearby. Facebook’s algorithm currently places too much emphasis on how closely connected it thinks your friends are to you, but if a close friend I’ve known for half my life checks into somewhere in Iowa, that won’t matter to me when I’m in New York.
2) Foursquare’s tips are pretty useful. Yes, there’s a lot of blather, but when I checked in at the White Plains, N.Y. train station on Friday and saw all the tips urging people to avoid the men’s room, I don’t care if I have the Seinfeldian syndrome known as uromysitisis — I’m finding a different place to go. Whrrl is even more focused on recommendations, and FoodSpotting has directed me to some delectable dishes. Facebook will need great content.