Thursday, October 22, 2009

More on FourSquare from myself and two others

I just scanned this blog to see what I've said about FourSquare, and I really haven't said much. Two posts, both of which were brief.

I signed up for FourSquare after reading Robert Scoble's post in which he stated that FourSquare could become bigger than Twitter. I don't know about that, but it sounded intriguing, so I signed up.

At first glance, I would appear to be outside of the FourSquare target demographic. I don't go out clubbing every night, and the few people that I know in real life who use FourSquare live many miles away from me (in some cases hundreds). Now perhaps it would make sense if I were going to conferences every couple of weeks, but I don't really do a lot of that either.

But I do enough that I knew that I could give Foursquare a good workout. When I signed up for FourSquare in September, I knew that I'd be able to use it at Oracle OpenWorld in October.

But even before I got to Oracle OpenWorld, I was exercising the service. I may not go to the trendiest clubs on the Sunset Strip (I haven't been to a club since Alexa's Wish broke up), but I go to Costco and Starbucks and places like that. And while the penetration of FourSquare in the Inland Empire isn't that great as of yet, that just means that there's more fertile ground to add new locations to the database.

Then I got to San Francisco, and things got interesting. Jake Kuramoto is a FourSquare user (more on him later), and there are some others at Oracle that use the service. Yet some do not; at the blogger meetup at OpenWorld, Jake and I were talking to another Oracle employee, one who is dedicated to the use of social networks - yet FourSquare didn't personally interest him.

Jake wrote about FourSquare on October 21, and this is part of what he said:

I’ve been playing foursquare regularly for about a month now, and even though I was teased by several people (you know who you are) at OpenWorld last week, I’ll continue to play.

/me thumbs nose

Jake works for the AppsLab at Oracle, and therefore has a professional interest in developing enterprise-level applications that are engaging. (See his early September survey question.) While he primarily talks about his FourSquare experience as an individual user, Jake did note the following:

Foursquare was great fun at OpenWorld, and Rich and I chatted at length about its potential as a conference app. Because you can see all the people checked into a given venue, it’s one step better than Twitter, no need to announce where you are or poll for where your friends are.

Maybe Marius and Tim can noodle on this for next year.

I am not privy to internal Oracle discussions, but you can certainly see the potential here - especially if FourSquare experiences a sharp growth curve. Assume for the moment that Oracle OpenWorld 2010 has 40,000 attendees (it will probably be more, but that's a nice round number). Now imagine for the moment that 1% of all attendees next year are active FourSquare users. With a body of 400 users, you could do more than simply have them check-in to Moscone South - you could have them specifically check-in to Moscone South room 104. Or better yet...

Let me back up for a moment to Oracle OpenWorld 2009. While Jake and others "checked in" to FourSquare locations corresponding to the different Moscones (Moscone North, Moscone South, and Moscone West), and I checked into a more generic "Moscone" location (I didn't want to keep track of every time I migrated from Moscone North to Moscone South), someone else decided to create three location AND event-specific locations - Oracle OpenWorld Moscone North, Oracle OpenWorld Moscone South, et al. Don't look for them now, since the locations have already been closed, but this points out an intriguing use of the technology. One that FourSquare is open to, to some extent:

We'd rather you not "close" any places unless they're bars / cafes' that have gone out of business. The exception is when people create venues for places that just don't exist - e.g. "Happytime USA", "I hate my boss", "On the beach" - those you are free to close. But as for all the other weird scenarios - people checking-in at subway stations, or on the Manhattan Bridge, or while on a Virgin Atlantic flight - let's keep them!

OK, now let's go back to Oracle OpenWorld 2010. Going a step beyond the check-in to Moscone South Room 104, you could have them check-in to Moscone South Room 104 for the Tom Kyte session. And you could have people put something on their FourSquare to-do list to go to the Tom Kyte session. And how could you populate that FourSquare to-do list? How about an export from a schedule building application? That's an idea to put in the mix.

Meanwhile, Rob Diana has also shared his thoughts on Foursquare, as a recent convert to the service. Noting that FourSquare effectively lets businesses advertise to people in their area (for example, if I check into Moscone, perhaps a nearby business might want to alert me to a sale or special offer), Rob notes the potential of this:

It is an amazing feature for consumers, and the advertising benefits for local businesses are huge. There is probably a very big return on those types of advertisements compared to more generic ad platforms. This also proves that there is a very solid business model for the mobile location applications.

But what if my local businesses don't offer such deals? What if Garf's Sports Lounge doesn't give me free drinks even though I'm the mayor at the moment?

It doesn't matter, because the game is still fun. And while I'm not an early adopter on this one, I guess I'm a middle adopter, for whatever that's worth.

Incidentally, my FourSquare URL is

And yes, Adam J, I see that you've gotten your Cafe Mason mayorship back.
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