I started using Foursquare because I felt obligated to learn about it. Why had it become popular? What made it such a good mobile app? What lessons could I take away from this combination of geolocation, gamification, and social networking? I had fun with it. I enjoyed the badges, the witty copywriting, and earning the mayorship of my frequent haunts. I competed with friends in my office, especially when we went on business travel. I may have checked into the airport parking lot, people mover, security checkpoint, tram, terminal, and gate. Ahem. I also enjoyed free chips and salsa after checking in at Chili’s.
Recently, Foursquare launched a new app called Swarm. They started advertising it every time I checked in. I ignored it. I had read that it was just about finding out where your friends are, which isn’t what I used Foursquare for. Then, one day, Foursquare wouldn’t let me check in. It directed me to download Swarm. I contemplated deleting it, but I now have a few years of history in the application, and I like being able to find places I’ve been. So, I downloaded Swarm. After I used it to successfully check in a couple times, I deleted Foursquare.
Now, I find that they expect you to have and use both apps. If you want the free chips at Chili’s, you need Foursquare, but to check in, you need Swarm. This is idiotic. Why should I use two apps to do what I could do before in one? As I understand it, there are no longer badges to be earned or mayorships to steal. I seem to only get 1 point per check-in where I used to get bonuses for various things. It no longer seems fun. It no longer seems useful. I’ve been forgetting to check in places, because I’ve stopped caring. If you read through the reviews on Foursquare, you’ll find that a lot of people feel the same way.
I’m curious as to what they were trying to do. Was there a problem they were trying to solve? Why did they think dividing the functionality into two apps would be an improvement? Did they think their users were tired of badges and mayorships? Most importantly, I wonder what lessons they’ve learned.