A Goodbye Letter to Foursquare – I Don’t Need another Yelp

Dear Foursquare. I know this may sting a little, but its time to say goodbye. I really enjoyed being the mayor in a few places, but now since I can’t check in – and I already use Yelp – I find your service redundant. Thanks for the memories.
-Geekazine.

It was John F. Kennedy who said “Change is the law of life. Those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” That is what Foursquare did – change. But did they change for the better or did they miss their future.

I have been a loyal Foursquare user for years. Not only did I get some great perks as a Mayor of some locations, I could also look back at where I have been and what I have done. I could leave tips or get tips from friends, share photos, and more. It allowed me to a way to remember the name of a restaurant I visited when I was last in San Fransico, New York, or even right here at home.

In May, the service added a new way to check in called “Swarm”. This brought a lot of confusion in the check-in because sometimes you would do it on Swarm and other times on Foursquare. There was a reason why, which I don’t remember being told. That reason was the killing of the check-in on Foursquare.

Last week the new Foursquare app came out. What everyone is comparing to a “Yelp-like” experience, the app doesn’t add anything new. In fact, you can already rate your experience of a place on Yelp, Facebook, Google, and many other apps.

So why would I want another app that does the same thing?

Lets take a look at the separation of check-in vs. rating. It seems this last year we’ve had a few apps break into two – Facebook and Messenger, Google and Hangouts, Path and their messaging service are a few that come to mind.

The idea of “unbundling” an app into two has advantages including their own source code so programmers can do new things they couldn’t do as an extention to another app. But if nobody installs the new app – or just un-installs the old one – it doesn’t matter how many new features it has.

Splitting something into two is possible but can be tricky. We haven’t really seen it with smartphone apps until now because they just haven’t been around that long. But we have seen some company splits before.

The most famous debacle split was when Reed Hastings tried to split Netflix into Qwikster. The idea is they would eventually sell the DVD mail rental side.

Companies like DuPont, Kraft Foods, Motorola, Sara Lee, and even the forced splits of Microsoft and AT&T show us good and bad reasons why you should split a company into two.

But can an app split into two and still stay on your smartphone or tablet.

GigaOm.com reported the other day apps might see lower install numbers simply because our smartphones are full. The average 16 GB smartphone or iPhone has about 7 GB for apps. According to ComScore, 65.5 percent of owners are not adding any new apps these days.

Apple’s new iOS8 might help – the new Swift programming language consolidates code and therefore makes for a smaller app. That, or just more reason to add features to the app and keep it at its current install size.

Lets say you aren’t teetering on filling up that smartphone. Not everyone wants hundreds of apps on their devices – some that sit dormant for months at a time.

In Foursquare’s case, they just took out the reason why they were popular to begin with. That would be like if Dell was to stop selling PC’s or Oscar Mayer was to stop selling hot dogs and go into a completely different market.

Better yet, its like if you were driving a car, stopped on a dime and started to go another direction because you think the rainbow is now behind you.

Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley believes this split will be the right thing for a five-year plan. But why didn’t Swarm get the “Yelp-like” interface and Foursquare keep the check-in?

Worse yet, there are people that want to just uninstall both apps and use Facebook check-in from here on. I am one of them. And I tried to use Swarm – with half the time getting issues of where I was in the world, to not being able to check-in or even having the app crash after I got my post ready to go.

All tech considered noted Swarm was 2 out of 5 stars and the hashtags #KillSwarm and #HateSwarm are noting customer’s distain for the split. Some people felt like they put their heart and soul into the app and now can’t do the one thing they expected it to.

Foursquare can salvage their business model and still split things up. Putting the check-in back into the main app is crucial for this. You can have secondary apps as long as they talk with the original and I don’t have to log into every new child-app I install.

That is, IF I install it…

Goodbye Foursquare

Goodbye Foursquare

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