Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley has checked into Bittersville -- mayor: him -- and described new rival service Facebook Places as "boring". Crowley says he doesn't feel threatened by the 500 million-strong site's rival service as it lacks gaming incentives.
Following the US launch of Facebook Places last week, Crowley told The Telegraph that Facebook's only advantage is its much larger audience. "The only interesting thing about Places is that it has a potential audience of over 500 million people around the world... but that can only be a good thing for location-based services, like Foursquare, as Facebook will educate the masses about check-ins."
Unlike Foursquare, Places has no incentive or rewards for frequent use, Crowley argues. People will fail to see the point of broadcasting their location when there's nothing to gain -- in short, it's boring.
Location-sharing services allow you, via GPS and mobile apps, to broadcast your spatial co-ordinates to
potential stalkers and burglars friends and colleagues worldwide. Foursquare has a system of collectable rewards for frequent check-ins and declares a user the 'mayor' of certain locations they check-in to more than anyone else. Facebook Places allows your location to be posted to your news feed and allows your friends to see if you're nearby.
Crowley believes the gaming mechanics in Foursquare will make it a more popular and widely used service than Places. "Facebook could copy our games ideas, but we are working on a raft of new mechanics which we hope will keep Foursquare fresh and 'check-in fatigue' away." Perhaps suspecting that Facebook has its ear to the ground, he didn't elaborate.
Crowley wasn't quite so coy about his hopes for Foursquare's role in the future. He has a vision that his location-sharing service will amass enough data to serve as a global and location-specific recommendation engine. Crowley hopes this will be able to suggest nearby landmarks to visit based on the users visiting habits and interests.
Considering Facebook's track record for igniting privacy concerns, it's quite possible people will be deterred from sharing their location on the social network. But if Places isn't successful that doesn't necessarily mean Foursquare will be, and Crowley is perhaps naively presuming people are interested in location-sharing at all, incentive or not.