Last week Foursquare
finally made its debut in St. Louis. That's a little later than co-founder Dennis Crowley told us back in July
, but it is within his expectation of being available here by the end of October.
Here is a little recap on what Foursquare is and what it does. Foursquare is a location based game that you can play with your phone. There is an iPhone app, an Android App and it works via a mobile website for other smart phones and you can also play via SMS text message on other non-smart phones. The core of the game is you go to your favorite places and check in to Foursquare on your mobile phone and get points.
If you check into a place more often than any other player, you get to be "Mayor" of that place. Not only do you get points for checking in, you get extra points for being the first to check in somewhere, and even more points for telling Foursquare about a new place.
Your point totals are ranked on a local leaderboard so you can see where you stand in the community. Then there are the badges. When you do something regularly, or a few times in a row, you get a badge related to that thing. For instance if you stop in for coffee three days in a row at the same coffee shop, you'll get a "local" badge. Hang out with different members of the opposite sex on consecutive occasions you get the "Playa Please" badge.
In addition to the gaming aspects of Foursquare, the practical application is letting your friends know where you are. How often have you been somewhere and found out later that a friend was at the same place at the same time but for whatever reason you just missed them? Foursquare lets you know if your friends are near by, either when you check in or via a notification on your phone (I had to turn notifications off). You can also leave tips about a place for other Foursquare users that might stop in.
Foursquare has a lot in common with Twitter. Not only are some of the practical applications similar, such as letting your friends know what you are doing, but they share some of the same investors and they both made a big splash at SXSW. Foursquare also has integrated Twitter updates into its functionality.
The business applications of this are already apparent. Foursquare is even ahead of Twitter in this regard. They have already launched a beta program in some locations where local businesses can advertise specials and discounts for Mayors or for simply checking in. In addition to being able to attract customers with incentives, businesses get a peek at customer frequency and demographic information from Foursquare.
So are you playing Foursquare yet? What do you think of it so far? Let us know in the comments.