Tag Archives: gowalla

Hype Aside, Most of Us Are Not Checking In

Despite all of the hype surrounding various check-in services, most of us are not bothering with any of them. Companies such as Google, Foursquare, Gowalla, Shopkick and the almighty Facebook all offer services which let you report your physical location online. This allows you to connect with friends on the fly or receive some pretty rad coupons and discounts when visiting a business. A recent study shows, though, that only about four percent of Americans have tried location-based services, and a mere one percent use them weekly.

“Ever since mobile phones and location technology got started, there have been conversations about the potential for doing something really incredible with this for marketers,” said Melissa Parrish, an interactive marketing analyst at Forrester. “But clearly the question is whether it has reached the mainstream, and it looks like the answer is no.”

Many businesses offer free drinks or discounts on goods when you check in there. Heck, you can receive even better goodies if you become the mayor of many of those same establishments. While this appears to be a great marketing ploy, there is a serious flaw in the equation if no one is using those services.

Twitter has over 145 million users. Foursquare has about three million subscribers. Loopt boasts four million fanatics. However, only about a quarter of them are active. The potential is out there to turn location-based checkins into a marketing guru’s dream. Despite VCs pouring more than $115 million into the mix over the past year, we just aren’t quite there yet.

Have We Thrown Privacy Out The Window?

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PEHUB wrote an alarming article last Friday about a lady named Louise who they identified & tracked using Foursquare. When she was confronted with this information, how did she respond? Lamarr was shocked at her answer – are you?

Reporter Leo Hickman outlined how easily he was able to stalk a woman chosen at random, using only her Foursquare account, a glance at her most recent tweets, and the information that Google has gathered about her over time, including her photo. Indeed, when Hickman tells her who he is and how much he’s “managed to deduce about her life simply by using my phone,” Louise doesn’t jump out of her seat and vow to quit using the service immediately. Rather, she calls the revelation a “a little unnerving,” before diving into Foursquare’s “excellent uses for business,” particularly when — ha, ha — it comes to ”stalking” potential recruits.

This is disturbing, to say the least. Have we thrown so much of our privacy out of the window that we don’t care when a total stranger tracks us down? Do we really believe we are invulnerable to becoming a victim of a serious crime due to this? It happens, you know. I’m not being an alarmist. People’s homes are being broken into because they tweet and “check-in” to tell the world they aren’t at home. Others are being stalked and harassed. It’s only a matter of time until we see headlines about someone being murdered or raped because they made themselves an easy target after giving away too much information online.

Yes, it’s fun to check in. Yes, it can be argued that it’s good for business. However, where do you draw the line between keeping yourself and your family safe and having a good time winning badges on sites such as the ones Lamarr discussed in this video?

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Tellmewhere Makes Check-ins Make Sense

I am still on the fence when it comes to location-based applications. I can honestly see both sides of the coin. On one side, they can be useful when trying to make plans and connect with others. On the darker side of the coin, there are privacy concerns for many people. I don’t use the services myself, but certainly “get” why others do.

I read about Tellmewhere a little while ago, and things clicked inside of my head. THIS makes sense. You can use Tellmewhere to check you in if you wish to. However, that is not the main function of the app, which is available for both the iPhone (and iPod Touch) and Android.

Tellmewhere uses algorithms to create personalized recommendations for you. It can help you find a restaurant, a hotel or a flower shop. The service will compare your preferences to those of others like you, and come up with places that would best suit your tastes and style. It doesn’t only work for whatever place you happen to be in at the moment, either. You can use the app to look for places of interest in another city entirely.

The service has been available in Europe for quite awhile now, where it has over 500,000 users. It’s just now beginning to trickle into the United States, so you may not feel it works very well just yet. Give it time, though. I have a feeling that as more of us discover it, the better it will become. Check out the app for yourself, or perhaps even take a peek via their website.

Make sure you check-in with the software center to see what’s new today.

Are You on Gowalla?

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During the SXSW conference, I happened to run into Phillip. He is a developer with the Gowalla team. Up until that point, I had only heard about the service. I hadn’t taken the time to sign up or check in anywhere using the service.

Gowalla is a simple way to share your location with your friends, tell them about your favorite places, and figure out where everyone is gathering for the eveing. Location-based services made connecting with others a snap during the conference. With thousands of people milling about, it was nearly impossible to figure out where people wanted to congregate. Using a check-in such as Gowalla made allowed all of us to connect and make plans in a matter of moments.

Location-based services are HOT right now. It seems as though half the tweets floating across my stream are checkins from websites such as Gowalla. Are YOU checking in yet?

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Foursquare and Gowalla Create Checkin Mania

Let’s face it: we’re cuckoo for check-ins. Foursquare recently reported more than 22 million check-ins via their service, and Gowalla is hot on their heels. Location-based applications are all the rage right now, with new ones being announced on a near-daily basis. Services such as Foursquare and Gowalla provide information about locations in your immediate area.

The newcomer to the scene takes things several steps further than the services we’re already using. Checkin Mania uses data from Foursquare and Gowalla (Brightkite and Yelp integration coming soon) to bring you information about locations across the globe. When you click on any location – in either Foursquare or Gowalla – Checkin Mania expands to show you the total number of check-ins, and find out who the current mayor or top users are. You will also be able to see tips and comments that users have left. You can even find out what’s happening in a city you may be visiting in the near future. Type that location into the service and let it tell you what the most recommended spots are in the area.

Checkin Mania is a great way to see where everyone is hanging out, yes. However, it’s also quite useful for businesses. By knowing where people are visiting the most, marketing campaigns can be tailored to better fit their customer’s needs. This application is a good tool to help you collect information as to where people are going, and what they want when they get there.

There are several similar apps which have launched over the past few weeks. However, none of them I have seen (as of yet) have managed to pull it all together the way that Checkin Mania does.