September 24, 2017

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The next evolution of Location Based Services

The next evolution of Location Based Services

Location Based Services (LBS) such as Foursquare, Gowalla, and MyTown have been hotly contested and talked about the last few months.  However – a startup in Boston is positioning itself to change the game.  SCVNGR (Scavenger – without the vowels) has built a platform that has functionality and playability above and beyond many of the other tools.

Many people including well known angel investor Dave McClure wrote a post on his blog, Check-Ins are Coupons. Game Mechanics are Bull****. Show me the MONEY or Go Home.  Within he basic asserts that unless there is some financial incentive (coupons) that mainstream adoption of this technology will essentially fall flat on its face.  After first reading his post a while back, I agreed.  Even being an avid Foursquare user – I’m more of an early adopter and when asking my wife to use it she shrugged it off.   As the LBS market continues to develop I’m actually switching my stance a bit, and I think SCVNGR has helped do so.  Here’s why:

  1. It’s about social.
  2. Social games work – If you don’t believe me take a look at Zynga the company behind popular games such as Farmville, and Mafia Wars.  Disney even just jumped into the game (ha!) spending $750+ million to buy Playdom.
  3. Rewards need to be there as well.
  4. Challenges are fun.

Each platform is by its very nature social.  Therefore there is very little innovation or difference in the platforms from this perspective.  Foursquare does have a game aspect through check-in’s and becoming the mayor – which also doubles as a reward as well.  SCVNGR on the other hand allows you to check-in and then give you follow up challenges based on the location.  For instance, check out this screenshot of someone checking in to American Apparel:

American Apparel

If you notice the second item Mimic the mannequin actually gives you a challenge and gets you involved with the store.  Social gaming is huge, in fact, according to a TechCrunch article posted on July 30 half of Facebook users play social games; it’s 40% of total usage time.

Rewards are an important part of the system.  Foursquare does this exceptionally well with notifications and user-generated tips.  However early in SCVNGR life they went after enterprise accounts, and made relationships with key organizations.  As such, they just launched rewards and already have 1000+ plus participating companies.  I don’t believe this will end as a numbers race to see who can close the most deals before a competitor does, but rather a matter of who can continue innovating.

If you don’t know about SCVNGR yet, here’s a little information about their platform:

SCVNGR is a game and playing is easy. Go places. Do challenges. Earn points! That’s the core of it, but there’s a whole lot more. Discover cool new places. Do exciting new things. Share what you’re up to with your friends. Unlock badges (and even real world rewards) by doing quick, fun challenges at your favorite places as you go about your daily life. – Source

The key evolutionary piece of this – SCVNGR’s new social check-in feature which quite literally changes the game.  According to the article on Mashable on this new feature:

The implications of the functionality are quite huge. The feature is the first ever way for friends to physically check in together, plus it’s easily the most fun checkin activity created to date. SCVNGR has essentially taken the tediousness out of pulling out your mobile device, loading an application and waiting to check in to a venue — there’s real and tangible action here. Plus, we can easily envision the competition for the world’s largest social checkin becoming a never-ending game on a massive scale.

Of course, there’s also the fact that SCVNGR can now accurately tie together groups of people based on their social checkins. We can just image the plethora of use cases for this valuable data set. Priebatsch agrees. He sees the data eventually being used to help venues increase the “socialness” of their locations. – Source

What do you think of SCVNGR?  Have you used their service?

Where do you think Location Based Services are headed next?

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