“I don’t care what my friends are doing and I don’t want to see them on a stupid map!” 4

Apparently I said “I don’t care what my friends are doing and I don’t want to see them on a stupid map” last week at GeoData2010 in my talk. At least that is the sentiment Jenny Watson captured and shared via twitter. No retraction from me on this, Foursquare, Gowalla etc just don’t do it for me. But so what if an ageing paleo doesn’t get the new hot LBS game? That does not mean there is not a new business model evolving, or does it?

A few weeks ago Gary Gale keynoted at wherecamp.eu and one of his points was that the vast majority of people did not have smartphones, many might not have them for several years and he also joked that people who spent their days “checking in” several times a day might want to consider getting a life.

That prompted me to wonder whether LBS games that are seeking to crowd source local data and monetise as an advertising or promotional platform might have a few problems – getting critical mass, keeping their users, proving long term value to advertisers for example. Yesterday Chris Treadaway asked the question “Are location based services all hype?” on Mashable, read the article for yourselves and decide. My answer – not quite but almost.

So back to my rant at GeoData, the point that I was trying to make was that we are still in the era where we think spatial is special and in your face location is where the value is. The future of  location will be deeper within applications and the money might well not be in the consumer space.

Afterthought: This is probably a foot in the mouth post. Someone (Yahoo?) will either buy a Foursquare, Gowalla or our home grown equivalent Rummble for oodles of money and prove me wrong.

4 thoughts on ““I don’t care what my friends are doing and I don’t want to see them on a stupid map!”

  • blabyboy

    hi steven,
    great link, really enjoyed what he had to say and agree with it. The comment’s were also interesting – the observation about the soccer mom’s certainly puts the check-in model into perspective.

    I think in the near future we’ll see a much needed segregation start for LBS (proper)games and those services which employ games mechanics as part of their service (e.g. 4sq).

    I think both elements have longevity in them, but at present they are mixed together which makes a viable business model harder to define.

    I recall at wherecamp.eu, that you were also in the games talk and I think there were some good ideas generated and talked about there, but that perhaps to monetise them, they’re going to need to get to something like a MMRPG state before they really become viable.

    The same with check-in type apps at present. Once the check-in dies away, what value is there really in the app. Ok, you can prolly get a discount coupon if you’ve been to x shop n number of times, but there are limits even to what you can do there.

    Ads are the thing really perplexing me at the mo. With some people, now talking about push content, rather then pull, I can’t imagine people wanting ads pushed to them regardless if they’re right next to the location or not. Being there is no good if you’re not looking to buy the product, at that time.

    It truly is like it’s 1999 all again. *sigh*

  • Peter Yard


    Whether your afterthought was another magic Feldman crystal ball moment…or slightly tongue in cheek..but Yahoo have just bought Koprol (a similar outfit to Foursquare and Gowalla, based in Indonesia).

    This seems to be logical as not only is the Asian market streets ahead of Europe in terms of cutting edge tech (so more smartphones…) but this has led to the culture being more attuned to these kinds of applications….( I’m thinking tamigotchas…or whatever they were called; or feeding some kind of digital dog to keep them alive) [No doubt some social commentator can contradict me here]

    Quite often (but not always) the Asian market can be an barometer for change in other markets….

    • steven

      I did know that Yahoo had bought Koprol. If they want to get into the heartland they will need to buy up a player, I doubt they can do it from an Indonesian base.

      BTW Koprol is very very small and early stage, it is probably more a play by Yahoo for the Indonesian mobile internet space than a big commit to LBS games. Yet another hostage to the future in that comment! Time to stop

  • Harry Wood

    About three years ago I heard quite a few of my non techy friends saying facebook is ridiculous. “I have real world friends, Why would I want to make friends on facebook.” I think they were missing the point because it’s precisely about your real world friends, much more so than other online communications. Whichever point they were missing, they were certainly missing something at the time, because a year later they were all on there adding friends like crazy. My point is that these things can have a curious way of growing on the public conciousness.

    Having said that, check-in games are very dependant on take-up of smartphones as you’ve said. Personally I don’t have one yet!

    I know what Gary means with the “get a life” comment, although actually I suppose a compelling aspect of check-in games is that, in a way, you’re constantly demonstrating that you have a life. “Look at me. I’m moving around going to bars and restaurants and doing interesting things.” …I suppose. Don’t do it myself.

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