If you’ve been reading here lately, you’ll know we have a crush on foursquare for a number of reasons: it’s fun and engaging to play, it’s a new shiny object, it applies game mechanics to solve a problem, etc.
On Monday, they officially announced their API.
I had heard around the way that there was a buggy and totally undocumented API that people were using, and the announcement essentially confirmed this by including a list of existing applications already using said API.
It puts your checkins over a time period on a map.
This is a huge win for IRL tie ins with venues. Essentially, foursquare can implicitly plot my tendencies and spending habits, over time, which is fantastically useful for local merchants, whether I actually checkin there or not.
The venues I go to can reward my patronage. Venues nearby places I frequent can lure me in with deals.
This is the kind of advertising gold that sounds ludicrous in a business plan because somehow you have to get people to tell you this information. Foursquare skipped right past that huge obstacle and now has the ability to mine all these data and print money.
Make no mistake, geolocation is the next big thing. Cases in point: Twitter will be rolling out geo-tagged tweets very soon, Snow Leopard includes rudimentary geo-features that could easily be expanded, Facebook recently rewrote their terms, foreshadowing location-based features.
What remains to be seen is how people will react to updating location, which again, is where foursquare excels.
They’re small and can’t possibly build every feature. They’re committed to aggressive crowdsourcing, empowering their users. Their user base is highly geeky and motivated, at least for now.
I’m excited to see the community build up around the foursquare API. Assuming Twitter is a good case study, there will be lots of great apps, many of them coming from the same people who built apps against the Twitter API.
Plus, as apps emerge, there will be those obvious ones that make the core service better, e.g. like Summize did for Twitter, that will lead to acquisitions.
Beyond the value of apps, I’m excited to see foursquare’s business model advance as venues tip to how valuable the data they collect are.
This is going to be fun to watch and even more fun to play.
What do you think? Find the comments.
Update: Another happy announcement came on Thursday as foursquare expanded the game to 50 new cities. Now, you can play in over 100 cities around the World, which will definitely make the API more attractive. Win!