Anyone that has kids will tell you that as soon as you find out you are expecting a baby, it suddenly seems like every other person is pushing a pram and it definitely wasn’t like that the day before. I kind of feel like that with Foursquare.
A good friend flagged them up a month ago and I thought nothing about it and then yesterday and today it seems like all I could see (no Apples for me) was Foursquare. All the circles seemed to cross.
For anyone that is yet to discover the business, it’s a location based review site? Social networking site? Game? Type thingy – it is probably best to read yourself vs my dumbed down version. The interesting thing is that it is growing like crazy and reportedly getting a person “checking in” at locations every second. One of those was me and I think it’s rather good.
Foursquare isn’t the only game / review site. A study of the most innovative apps (which also came out yesterday) placed 4 in the top 20, with Gowalla, Buzzd and Rummble all showing tremendous growth. For me the excitement comes from the fact that you have this amazing network affect, of people reviewing predominantly commercial premises (bars, restaurants etc). You sense a revenue model can’t be far behind.
I then read a very insightful article by Maya Baratz about how Newspapers should be engaging in the app economy (or potentially can become structural to the app economy). With a wonderful line of, “Rather than trying to control its profits by curtailing the spread of its content, the news industry should be redefining a means to fuel that profit off of such a spread”.
I then read Metro in Canada has done a deal with Foursquare. and another pram passes the window.
It feels like a good move. Helping to build The Timeout of Timeout’s and really get their audience behind it. For the technology business they potentially get additional boost of speed to market, which is so critical for technology. We all have know the paper have online audiences in their millions !
Which is where I came to my final thought. How polarised the view is between the technology market and media market when they look at their audiences.
Media loves to bag elephants. Lets be honest there was never anything sexy about classified and for most it was only ever a stage to get to the big game accounts, Execs were keen to go out entertaining and secure the big client again vs making lots of small sales. Oddly enough Google (in the technology corner) loved it the other way round and wanted the simple scalable small business and almost looked uncomfortable dealing with big accounts. No surprise that most papers were eaten from the classified end where all the “joiners” were and the rising stars were out on safari looking for the “brand” money.
There is an opportunity with businesses like Foursquare to really work with publishers and get involved with their large online audiences and brands that many readers still have affection and respect for. I think more importantly there is also a real opportunity for publishers to learn something about not “doing the deal” and getting some money out of smaller businesses and really having to think about what people want. Heaven forbid. “Get me editorial on the phone”