The next big thing?
The 2000 startup Dodgeball was a poster child for the difficult road traveled by mobile social networks. It emerged with enough potential to be acquired by Google in 2005 only to have the founders leave in frustration in 2007 and watch Google shutter the service in January 2009. Now one of those founders, Dennis Crowley, has launched a replacement venture named Foursquare which is emerging as a top destination for mobile social networkers. Robert Scoble recently provided his argument for it to eventually become bigger than Twitter. For many it is still a love/hate situation. Scoble does readily admit that many of the current features seem lame and another fan, Jennifer Leggio of ZDnet, lists several obvious problems with the current version that still somehow have not mitigated her enthusiasm.
There is an uncommonly high level of interest in the business potential of Foursquare. The blog Gravity7 explained why it compares favorably with Yelp and Blackweb20 described how Foursquare could deliver targeted incentives to prospects who are already nearby. Caleb Elston marveled at how powerful the Foursquare concept could be if combined with the Facebook social graph. Management at Foursquare isn't moving at Twitter monetization speed either - it has already created an advertising platform.
Foursquare is rolling out slowly and is currently available in a limited number of cities as it carefully prepares each local market. A key competitor has found a faster route - Gowalla is relying on crowdsourcing to build a network that contains commercial establishments as well as the user's favorite places to just get away from it all.