Foursquare and Starbucks announced a joint venture this week that could change the way we think about these geolocation services. We’ve all seen announcements on Twitter and Facebook from Foursquare and Gowalla (among others) about where our friends are right now. To be honest, I’ve found most of these announcements to be boring wastes of bandwidth as I wrote in Foursquare: I Really Don’t Care Where You Are.
But my snarkiness aside, I do see the commercial value of trusted friends’ recommendations. If my friend eats at a certain establishment, perhaps I will too. Starbucks this week raised the geolocation stakes when it announced a deal with Foursquare to reward people who report frequently from Starbucks. For those who aren’t familiar with Foursquare, it’s set up like a game, so the people who report most often from a given location are given “Mayor” status.
The Foursquare-Starbucks deal gives Mayors a special reward they can unlock. It’s actually a great way for businesses to reward those customers who frequent their businesses most often. I could see smaller rewards for non-Mayors who report their location as well.
While the current implementation can be annoying, this kind of deal between Starbucks and Foursquare could represent the future of the business model, and it could be something we all care more about if it involves saving money at places we frequent anyway.