Do your thing and do it well
Last weekend a friend of mine tried to open a beer with a Swiss Army Knife bottle opener. She failed. I’m sure the opener works, but I was left with the thought that sometimes when something tries to be everything, it often isn’t as good as its competition which is focused on doing one thing really well. The latter category includes bottle openers and Foursquare. The former, Facebook Places.
Facebook Places is interesting and may become a juggernaut. I’m a digital optimist so I’ll be using it. However, before we declare Foursquare and Gowalla goners there are a few things worth thinking about.
- The Facebook Places check ins will litter your feed. If this catches on, expect to see streams of check ins throughout your newsfeed. FB has done a good job of organizing birthday wishes and check ins by multiple people at the same place to be under one item, but if everyone starts checking in it could get ugly.
- Typically people have a smaller group of friends on foursquare and these are people whom they actually want to know where they are. With hundreds of friends on facebook, we all know there are many we don’t know that well or don’t really care about, let alone want to know where we are. Part of the beauty of Foursquare and the other check in apps are the smaller groups of friends with whom you can have an ongoing conversation.
- Competition is fun. I stole the mayorship of a local coffee shop from my boss the other day and my wife and I are battling for a park. The competition is one massive reason Foursquare is outdueling Gowalla and one reason it is currently superior to Facebook Places. Without competition, why would I check in at the same coffee shop or office every day? It would be like posting the same exact status update daily.
There’s no doubt that Facebook is a powerful tool that unites so many millions of us and there are some great uses for Places. However, the above three points make me think there is room for both Foursquare and Facebook Places in our congested digital world.
What do you see as pros and cons of each location based app?