Location… location… location

A year ago at the Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSWi), the founders of a new startup company, Foursquare stepped onstage to demonstrate a new, location based application.

They had taken the concept from an earlier program they created in 2004 known as Dodgeball, which was acquired by Google in 2005 and discontinued in 2007.  The founders moved on to create Foursquare which uses the GPS positioning capabilities in smartphones such as Apple iPhone, Google Android and Blackberry, which in turn let them create a social network which encompasses location-based data.

In the year that they have been introduced, there are now over 500,000 active users.  The concept is to help friends meet up in the real world, share tips on local hangouts or just compete by trying to earn virtual badges for certain activities or become “mayor” of a spot by checking in there more than anyone else.

Despite its relative newness, Foursquare has been creating buzz, inking partnerships with Bravo TV and, according to various media reports, preparing to roll out others with dining guide Zagat, the History Channel, Warner Bros. (CNN’s sister company) and HBO.

Despite the relative success of Foursquare, there has been also a backlash.

A website called ‘Please Rob Me’ has exposed what its’ creators call security concerns when Foursquare users post their mobile locations on Twitter or Facebook. alerting to potential burglars that their homes are unoccupied.

Foursquare counters advising that users can update security settings that will limit where the posts are broadcast to.

One thing that doesn’t appear to be changing though is the growing popularity of Foursquare.  Adopted first by a hip New York crowd, the applications badge rewards have a pop-culture like, slangy flavour with titles like ‘Player Please!’ which identifies male users that check in frequently to locations with several women.  There’s even one called ‘Douchebag,’ reportedly given to people who check into places that are deemed to be less that desirable.

About Grant Fengstad

I’m a technology professional in the travel and transportation sector and have been very involved with the Internet for over 20 years.