Will Facebook "Places" kill Foursquare and other LBS platforms? The short answer, in my humble opinion, is yes.
"Why?" You might ask. "It's the next Twitter!"
"No, no it's not," I would retort.
In the rush to find the next big social thing, the industry glommed on to LBS (Location-Based Service) platforms. Foursquare got all the hype, despite much better interfaces like that of Gowalla. But in that rush, people forgot the one thing that makes social media powerful: conversation. There is no conversation happening inside of Foursquare or the majority of other available LBS platforms. I would have to say that the most social of the current LBS platforms are the ones whose real purpose is realtime-location-based-stranger-shagging.
I tried Foursquare and Gowalla. I did, I really did. But, I couldn't keep up with it. It felt so shallow. Those services, which aimed to connect people in real life, ended up disconnecting me from the people I was actually with – "Hold on, let me check in real quick. I think I can become the Mayor." If I were to have glanced up from the app for just one second, I would see the eyes roll from every one of my real life friends...ok, just my wife.
So is Places that much different? Yes. Well, sorta. I can now loop my real friends into the Check-In...that's sort of cool. We all can comment later on that event and other pre-existing friends can join the conversation. But the cool piece, for me, is adding the contextual relevance of location to situations and conversations.
But that isn't what's going to kill Foursquare. It's the user base: 500 million active Facebook users are going to kill Foursquare. Facebook is where my friends are...already. It's where my conversations happen...already. And, quite simply, I'm not looking for another social thing.
Ok, ok, so "kill" might be a little harsh—rendered impotent might be more accurate.
Dave Snyder is an associate creative director at Firstborn.