Mobile

Why Foursquare doesn't owe its success to the iPhone

Location-based check-in service Foursquare saw a massive amount of success, both globally and in the United States, because it focused on multiple mobile platforms rather than a single one like Apple’s iPhone operating system or Google’s Android, according to Foursquare executive Holger Luedorf.

Foursquare went against the grain in embracing the fragmentation of the smartphone marketplace, said said Luedorf (pictured left), vice president of mobile partnerships with Foursquare, in an interview with VentureBeat editor-in-chief Matt Marshall at the DiscoveryBeat 2010 conference in San Francisco today.

Since the start, Foursquare’s team has been focused on location-based check-in technology — a service which allows an online user to announce his location to his friends — on multiple platforms like the BlackBerry operating system and now Nokia’s Symbian operating system, making it possible for the company to expand into places like southeast Asia and Europe, Luedorf said.

“Being pragmatic about it, we see where we find users and we go there,” he said. “If you see users in southeast Asia and Europe, you better think outside Android and iPhone, and you want to work with international carriers.”

That work isn’t a big investment for Foursquare right now. Luedorf, who joined Foursquare in June, manages these relationships with international partners and carriers himself. Likewise, he said Foursquare doesn’t spend significant amounts on marketing or public relations. But because of that, Foursquare is able to push practically all of its funding into developing the application in the face of potential competitors like Facebook’s check-in service.

Foursquare still doesn’t see those applications as competitors, though, because Foursquare is focused solely on being a check-in application and making that process fun. Facebook, in comparison, slapped the service on top of the rest of its offerings, Luedorf said.

“I think Facebook Places fits really well into the overarching Facebook product, certainly,” said Luedorf. “So far we’re doing our own thing. I’m not sure we actually ever single out a single platform we are tremendously worried about. Everybody is kind of always watching each other.”


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