Boston-based location check-in game SCVNGR has a lot of overlap with Foursquare, but SCVNGR’s main feature is the ability to create treasure hunts. Founder Seth Priebatsch, subject of this great New York Times piece from last year on entrepreneurs and hypomania, started the company to build “a game layer on top of the world.”
SCVNGR and foursquare are similar enough that it’s not clear yet whether the smartphone world has room enough for the both of them. Users checking in on SCVNGR often have to complete tasks at each check-in point, such as uploading a photo. The startup also introduced check-in discounts in March. This reporter has seen exactly one person use SCVNGR, because Foursquare was “boring now” and mayorships had become too competitive.
While some folks might attribute the rumbling feeling that hit New York this afternoon to a 5.9 earthquake in Virginia, Betabeat now knows better. It was the tectonic reverberations of defeat, as Facebook quietly phased out the Places feature of its mobile app which everyone was screaming for months would kill Foursquare.
Checking in to a physical location is an intimate act. You’re letting friends and potentially strangers, if you share to social networks, that you’re home, at work, at a party or in another country. Facebook, as it did with photos, made it possible to tag other people, indicating when they were at a location with you. Like photo tagging, this spurred a high volume of early activity as superusers essentially forced other users to take part in the act of checking in.
But as part of sweeping redesign today that emphasizes privacy, Facebook is phasing out its Places feature for mobile. It’s a tacit admission that Mark Zuckberg’s policy of shoot first, ask questions later, of always pushing the boundaries of personal privacy, doesn’t apply to all markets. And as with many features introduced by Google and Facebook in the social space, a reminder that the size of your network doesn’t always guarantee you can co-opt a market from early movers.
Millions of people check in to services like Foursquare, Facebook, Yelp, Gowalla and Twitter every day. If local merchants knew where these users were, who they were talking to and what they liked, they could reach out to bring in new customers.
But your average restaurant owner doesn’t have time to learn and monitor multiple Read More