Daily Dose of iQ: The Good and Bad of the New Foursquare

Aug 06, 2014 — Allan Pulga

"The check-in is dead," wrote Mashable's Pete Pachal today. "Foursquare, the service that popularized telling the world where you are, has fully removed the act of checking into venues from its app in Wednesday's major update to iOS and Android, version 8.0."

Pachal explains that Foursquare's spin-off app (called Swarm) debuted in May. That's where check-ins now live.

I sat down with a couple of my colleagues (R&D Developer Evan Bashir and Communications & PR Manager Beth Gulka) to hear their different takes on the new Foursquare.

Evan, you mentioned you were a longtime Foursquare user disappointed by the forced move to Swarm. Please explain what disappointed you and why.

Evan: I started out using Foursquare purely to remember the places I’ve been, especially when on vacation. I had only added a select group of friends, because the notifications would get overwhelming.

Foursquare became a pseudo-Yelp and lost me as a user.

Recently, I was at a place and decided to check in. Nope. I was told I was no longer allowed to check in on Foursquare; I had to download "Swarm" if I wanted to check in. This was instantly a negative experience. So, I downloaded Swarm and then uninstalled Foursquare -– because It’s useless now, right? Next thing I see, is Foursquare completely pivoted as a startup to become a pseudo-Yelp and also lost me as a user.

It’s going to be much harder for them to convince me to download Foursquare now, because it has none of the features I loved from the original (which is why I so willingly downloaded Swarm). So, bad business decision!

Beth, you mentioned you tried the old Foursquare but it didn’t appeal to you. Please explain your thought process, why you abandoned it, and what about this new format looks appealing to you.

Beth: I just found the old Foursquare's use and functionality very limited. It was entertaining at first to check in the various locations, see where my friends had been and collect badges, but in a world with new apps emerging daily, this one lost my interest.

I can see the new Foursquare being a great travel companion when I'm in a new city.

Once the novelty wore off, Foursquare didn’t serve any purpose to me. On the other hand, the new Foursquare has a lot more to offer. It serves a more useful purpose of helping me find things the app knows I’m interested in or I may like.

I can see the new Foursquare being a great travel companion when I’m in cities I’m unfamiliar with. From finding restaurants with great reviews to unique bed and breakfast spots or seeing places my friends have enjoyed, I can see myself giving Foursquare another shot.

There is a risk in detaching functionality from your existing app (as Facebook is currently doing with mobile Messaging via Facebook) – losing loyal users (as Evan explained in his answer to Question #1). Why do you think these companies decided to simply break off connectivity to the old version, rather than phasing it out over time?

Beth: One possibility could be diversifying ad revenue streams, of course. Another benefit is catering to different audiences. Swarm caters to those who like a one-function, simple app that is almost more game-like than used as a tool. Foursquare’s  new app has a much larger focus and perhaps a different target audience than the original adopters of Foursquare.

Foursquare likely broke Swarm functionality off to a) diversify ad streams and b) cater to different audiences.

Evan: I think Facebook had a good reason to separate their app into two, as they have an incredible amount of functionality to cram into the Messaging app. It’s also very well thought out, because you can message while you Facebook! Foursquare isn’t quite comparable to Facebook, as they didn’t split the app -- they completely rebranded it and created a new one, thus alienating all of their past users.

Topics: Retail Operations, Mobile Industry, Customer Experience, Retail Marketing

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