Plenty of others (including Google) are working on similar ideas surrounding location-based coupons, but the Foursquare idea has different potential because it’s a more proactive use of location-based services. On one level, Foursquare is more of a game, and some people use it to obtain a high score and get badges (for checking in certain places). That’s different from being in a place like a grocery store because you’re shopping as you normally would, and seeing a coupon pop up.
Foursquare, for those unfamiilar with it, rose from the ashes of Dodgeball, an early location-based social network that Google acquired, allowed to languish and then eventually shuttered. Google Latitude is a successor to Dodgeball in some respects.
Foursquare is clever and has the potential to be a “cult-like” hit with a select demographic group (read: college and early 20s) that goes out a lot, is intensely social in groups and has time on its hands. But because of the investment of time required and the initial complexity of learning how to “play,” it’s not a candidate for broad adoption and usage. That also limits its ability to make money from advertisers as well.
However all that may be just fine for Foursquare and may lead to brand sponsorships as well as local business promotions by bars, clubs and selected restaurants that cater to Foursquare’s users and audience. It’s very reminiscent of the now defunct online network MingleNow.