Foursquare to move beyond check-ins

Foursquare is set to provide more automated features, such as the recently-launched Radar, to drive more engagement among its 10m members, as the social location service moves beyond simply check-ins in its search for revenues. Speaking at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco, Crowley says that lowering the amount of work users have to do to engage with the app could boost sign-ups and activity on the app.

“One of the big hurdles we have is that you have to think about using it. If we can lower that barrier, we can juice the experience,” he says.

However, he also maintains that the game elements to the app, such as its league table based on activity, remains a crucial tool for connecting with users, adding: “I’m a big believer in using game mechanics to push people to do things in real life.”

Foursquare is continuing its attempts to drive revenue, after making strides in recent months. However, Crowley tells Forbes that growth is still a major focus for the firm, saying: “As the product gets better, the user base gets bigger and we can think about monetisation.”

Foursquare is highlighted by some as an example of the social location space failing to live up to its potential to date. The firm is criticised for its meagre revenues and apparent lack of long-term business model. Recent research by Pew Research Center claims that while more than a quarter of US smartphone users now use location-based services such as maps and GPS, just 4% use social check-in services. Overall, the global location-based services market will be worth USD10.3bn in 2015, nearly quadrupling its value from USD2.8bn in 2010, according to a report by Pyramid Research earlier this year, and the onus is on services such as Foursquare to grab a significant slice of the earnings.

Meanwhile, Crowley says competition in the location space from firms such as Google and Facebook is “one of the most challenging things to deal with”. Facebook launched Places last year in a move that many thought would spell the end of standalone services such as Foursquare, but the social network recently scrapped the service, instead folding check-ins into all activity across the site, such as status updates. Crowley claims that the move does not end Facebook’s threat to Foursquare’s long-term success. “How we are able to survive the Facebook onslaught is a big motivating thing for the company,” he says.

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