Earlier Foursquare announced an update to its Android app (soon to come to iOS) that takes its trove of social and check-in data and turns it into local recommendations for users. I was just speaking to Ask.com about this sort of capability yesterday.
The difference between the new Foursquare “proactive” recommendations and its existing Explore feature, which also makes recommendations, is the fact that the app will now ping/buzz/notify users in or near places without any prompting by the user. Explore is still more of a “pull” feature that requires users to actively engage with the app.
[W]hen you sit down to dinner, we might ping you with the can’t-miss dish on the menu (like the screenshot from a sushi bar below). Or when you arrive in a new neighborhood or city, we’ll suggest a few places that your friends love (like below, after you’ve wandered into a new neighborhood). It’s like having a ton of local friends stuffed in your pocket wherever you go.
I haven’t yet used it so I don’t know how well it works. But assume that it does work.
While increasing numbers of sites and apps are using “big data” to offer personalized recommendations, so far at least, there aren’t many apps that do push recommendations in the same way. Google Now and Google’s Field Trip do to varying degrees — especially Field Trip.
However Google Now is quite broad and Field Trip is much more of a general content app (albeit location specific) and not as focused as Foursquare. In other words, as a practical matter, the new Foursquare capability is almost unique.
Yelp introduced recommendations a few months ago but it doesn’t actively buzz or ping you with tips in bars or restaurants or prompt you about interesting things nearby without you being required to open and interact with the app. I suspect that this Foursquare mobile push-discovery will become a model for others to follow and emulate.
In my recent webinar for StreetFight with YP, we talked about local discovery (push) as an alternative tool vs. search (pull). The two complement one another but the availability of volumes of data and social connections now make it possible to offer a really good “discovery” experience.
In addition to this latest consumer-app update, Foursquare has been actively pushing new ad products to market (e.g., retargeting, in-venue ads).
Many people, including me, had seen Foursquare as a product that was losing its audience. But within the last several weeks, there seems to be a new energy and momentum. Foursquare has really stepped up its product roll-out cycle and PR. And this afternoon there was a Bloomberg report that several major internet companies are potentially interested a strategic investment in Foursquare.
Microsoft was the only company named in the article. It also said that talks were “advanced” though not final:
Microsoft is in discussions with Foursquare Labs Inc. about a potential investment in the social-media company, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.
The talks are at an advanced stage, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. Foursquare is also meeting with other companies about an investment, and the talks with Microsoft may not lead to a deal, said another person with knowledge of the matter.
Yahoo represents a better fit with Foursquare than Microsoft, in my view and that of a few others. But Yahoo also “needs” Foursquare partly because it has failed to develop a really compelling local experience.
Indeed, despite all the improvements and solid upgrades Marissa Mayer has brought to Yahoo’s properties, local remains an Achilles heel at least in mobile. While you can get at local information through search the “local search” experience needs to be much richer for Yahoo to really compete for mobile consumer usage with Google and others.
- Will push recommendations truly help Foursquare and give consumers a real reason to use the app?
- What could/might Microsoft do with Foursquare data/content if it becomes a significant new investor?