foursquare

Tim Bradshaw

A little bit of Foursquare history was made in London last night. The UK’s first “super swarm” badge was awarded to more than 300 users of the location game. They all checked into the Jewel Bar in Piccadilly, with no other goal than to win the badge. 

Tim Bradshaw

As my colleague David Gelles wrote earlier today, Facebook has finally announced its long-expected location service, Places. It’s only available in the US so far but the rest of the world should be getting it through Facebook’s iPhone app and touchscreen site in the next few months.

Places provides very similar a service to the “check in” function provided by Foursquare – which turned down a Facebook takeover earlier this year – but with Facebook’s trademark simplicity and clean design. The main enhancement is that Facebook users can tell the site when their friends are with them at a bar or school, in the same way they can tag them in photos.

It’s a big moment for Facebook, but also for the check-in itself, which alongside the Like button is quickly becoming one of the internet’s most common ways to interact. As well as Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp and other location-based services, you can now check-in to the TV show you’re watching (through Miso) or even the dinner you’re eating (thorough Foodspotting). 

David Gelles

Facebook has just invited us to an event on Wednesday afternoon at which the company “will provide an update on the service’s features and products.”

Sounds like a product launch, and Facebook is likely to unveil some features that will help it defend its turf from Google’s imminent social networking push.

At the top of the list of features Facebook watchers are anticipating: Places. 

David Gelles

Foursquare, the social networking company that lets users “check in” to locations using mobile phones, has taken its first significant round of funding after acquisition talks sputtered.

The $20m series B investment was led by Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm founded by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen. Other investors include Union Square Ventures and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures. The deal values Foursquare at $95m. 

David Gelles

When it comes to the long-term success of stand-alone “check-in” services like Foursquare, Gowalla and Booyah, it’s all about incentives.

Sure, a few hundred-thousand early adopters might find social value in sharing their location with the world. But in order for checking-in to go mainstream, these companies will have to offer users a compelling answer to the question “Why?”

Foursquare is inching towards a meaningful response with a bevy of partnerships, including its latest promotion with Starbucks

David Gelles

As anticipated, location-sharing services were the talk of the town in Austin as engineers and entrepreneurs convened for the South by Southwest Interactive festival.

“Location, location location,” Playfish chief operating officer Sebastien de Halleux told me when I caught up with him. “It’s a big theme for the web at this stage.”

That may be true. But despite the genuine promise of location-based services, and all the hype around the budding rivalry between Foursquare and Gowalla — rival applications that let users “check-in” and share their location with friends — this stuff is still a long way from being mainstream. 

David Gelles

South by Southwest Interactive gets underway today in Austin, Texas, and a broad swath of the technology community will be headed there to check out the bands, barbecue, and, oh yeah, the startups.

Ever since Twitter had its breakout moment at the 2007 festival, SXSW has been considered a king-maker of sorts. Yet no startup has yet been able to replicate Twitter’s success.

This year the major theme is set to be location based services, and the battle between Foursquare and Gowalla in particular. The two similar services let users “check-in” to different locations and earn virtual badges and points, and tech enthusiasts believe that with the proliferation of smartphones, both companies could become hugely successful.