Foursquare’s Reinvention: Introduces the new “Swarm” App and Shifts Focus to Local Search
Foursquare, once the darling of mobile-based social networking, has experienced serious declines in the last three years, including falling revenues, saddled debts, and increasing competition from local search giants like Yelp. Despite these problems, and doomsday predictions that the company would eventually fold, Foursquare has been resilient.
The company raised $35 million in cash last year, wiping off some of its debts, and usage is expanding in large urban hubs like Beijing, Tokyo, and Istanbul. In what many industry watchers see as a surprising move, Foursquare announced today that they were shifting their focus towards local search, and an entirely new app called Swarm will be released just for check-ins.
Aside from shifting its check-ins and social networking services to Swarm, a completely redesigned Foursquare app is scheduled to debut in the coming months. The new Foursquare app will focus solely on location-based exploration and discovery in a clear bid to challenge Yelp in the local search arena.
According to The Foursquare Blog, the company’s decision to unbundle its web properties and create a suite of connected apps was motivated by a desire to improve user experience. “Swarm is for people who want the fastest and easiest way to connect with their friends. Foursquare is for explorers who want to know about the best spots, and to share what they’ve found with others. The two apps have been built to work seamlessly together… and we can’t wait until both apps are in your hands.”
Swarm will be available on iOS and Android in the coming weeks, and eventually on Windows Phone. On the other hand, how will the redesigned Foursquare provide users personalized results once check-ins are discarded?
According to the company’s CEO, Dennis Crowley, Foursquare no longer requires check-ins to provide personalized recommendations because the company has amassed an astonishing 6 billion check-ins and 5 billion signals. Foursquare has mapped over 60 million locations around the world with their data. Bolstered by this data, the company can now provide its users with personalized local searches that are informed by the people users trust.
As Foursquare prepares to battle Yelp, Swarm also has a competitor. Two weeks before Foursquare announced its dichotomy, Facebook debuted Nearby Friends, a new feature that is eerily similar to Swarm. However, Swarm has strengths that could potentially attract a committed user base. Swarm employs passive location-sharing, and does not give its users the exact coordinates of their friends. This is great news for users who are concerned about security and privacy, as Swarm only provides general locations.
By doing away with gamification features like check-ins and badges, and undergoing a metamorphosis, Foursquare hopes to gain new users and greater relevance in an increasingly competitive social media landscape. This innovation might be risky, but it has the potential to take the company to new heights.
What do you think of the new Foursquare? How will the new Foursquare and Swarm impact local search? Hit us up with your opinions in the Comments section.
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