In 2009, Twitter became the talk of the town. The next year, daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social kept the social media community on its toes. As 2011 approached, Geosocial applications like Foursquare and Gowalla looked as though they would become the newest communications craze. Even Facebook prepared for such a possibility by adding a Places feature to its networking options.
But as the third quarter winds down, the year no longer seems ripe for a check-in revolution. A survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reveals that while 28 percent of cell phone owners use location-based services for directions and recommendations, but only 5 percent are checking in. When looking specifically at smartphone owners, the former figure jumps to 55 percent while the latter only increases to 12.
If Facebook were an oracle hinting at Foursquare and Gowalla’s potential growth, perhaps it is also a harbinger of their decline. Just two weeks ago the social networking giant dispatched Places in favor of more versatile (and less stalker-like) location functions.
The failure of geosocial services to find traction could be attributed to a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is privacy. While some critics might site safety concerns, others simply do not want to broadcast their location across the various networks. Although check-in applications didn’t become this year’s social media darling, such services could always make a late-game resurgence. After all, it took Facebook six years to turn a positive cash-flow.
— Nicole Duncan