July 27, 2010

Hey Foursquare, Let's Discuss a Check-in Exchange Program

Dear Foursquare,

Whether it's a fad, or a trend, or the next generation of the world's currency, location based services are much-discussed these days, and there is no argument that you are in the driver's seat. Barring massive disaster resulting from failure to scale, or the introduction of much-hated new features, the current competitors are not going to shake you from your perch, and the big guys (you know who) don't look like they want to go "niche" but treat LBS as a feature. So you're in a good spot. But... hey. Let's talk.

Here's the issue. I've been "playing" with your service for the last few months, checking it at places both interesting and mundane. I've racked up my unfair share of mayorships of mediocre venues - from Grewalz Liquor & Groceries and Susan's Donuts to Carl's Jr. and the A&D Food Mart. In addition to these crowned venues, I've also racked up stops at businesses from gas stations to post offices, banks and restaurants on the Peninsula. But now we have a problem.

This Friday, I moved. I didn't go too far. Just about 2.3 miles, if Google Maps is to be believed. But this, in terms of Foursquare, might as well have been 230 miles, because now, the old Safeway, where I had 18 check-ins, has been replaced with one where I've only visited a single time. The same issue rings true at the world's favorite mini-mart, 7-11, where I had six check-ins and now have to start over from scratch.

You might have seen CardStar's news of integrating with you. Heck, what am I talking about? Of course you know. Well, they're doing this tie-in with loyalty cards, and as far as these "new" venues see it, I've never been there before. I might as well be some tourist who stumbled over from the airport in a compact Ford Focus that smells like vanilla.

Here's what I want. I want credit for time served. I want to migrate my check-ins from one 7-11 to the other. I want my check-ins from Safeway in Sunnyvale to move to the um... other Safeway in Sunnyvale. I want to move my check-ins from one Burger King to another and from one Wells Fargo to another. I'm even willing to take a hit in the conversion. Maybe my 10 checkins are now worth 6 or something. Put Siobhan Quinn on the case - I know she's smart and the math isn't too rough. I'll even send over an Excel doc if it speeds things up.

It's not that I am a Foursquare addict. Surely I'm not. There's no way. I mean, yes, I did speak at last week's Geo-Loco conference, but that was just a favor for a friend, right?

So pass along a "He's Moved!" badge and let's get this conversion going. Don't make me look like a N00b.

- Louis Gray (@lgloco)