January 25, 2010
It seems like the fight for check-in dominance keeps heating up. Last week, seasoned Bay-area community powered venue review site, Yelp, added the ability to check into places that have been reviewed on the site. This was no doubt in response to the growing popularity of location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla. Having the ability to check into places that exist in Yelp gives them somewhat of an edge. Yelp’s database is much older and more populated then Foursquare’s and Gowalla’s. There is no need for the user to add the place they are checking into because Yelp usually has the most popular places already locked and loaded.
Now, Yelp has added actual check-in data from its users to the reviews of locations in its database. The amount of check-ins to a particular place by a user will appear right next to the review they have written. This move will definitely add credibility to reviews. And, as more users begin to check-in, it could decrease the amount of false reviews that appear on the site.
Yelp is also taking a different approach to check-ins, using it to legitimize its reviews, whereas Foursquare and Gowalla are focused more on the game aspect. The only issue I see with that is the lack of incentive to check-in using Yelp. It seems to me the reason why Foursquare has become an overnight hit is the game play. Defending mayorships and earning new badges is what keeps users coming back for more. That’s one aspect that is lacking from Yelp’s check-in model. Also, Yelp has basically copied Foursquare’s leaderboard, which Foursquare’s founder, Dennis Crowley, has admitted is flawed. He acknowledged this on his tumblr blog but quickly pulled it down. However, another user was able to reblog it before it was removed.
2010 is shaping up to be the year of location based services. Only time will tell who the winner will be.
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