Mobile

FourSquare’s new iOS app could help solve its ‘user intent problem’

Above: Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley

Image Credit: Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat

Foursquare released a new iPhone app today for iOS7 with an updated design and push notifications that offer helpful information and tips for places near you.

foursquare ios7Now when you arrive somewhere new, the app will automatically give you recommendations on what to order or will deliver special offers, even if the app isn’t open. It also presents a feed of what your friends are up to and recommends popular businesses in  that city.

Foursquare says it has over 40 million users who have checked in over 4.5 billion times to date. It has a treasure trove of location data on users and businesses, but the company has taken some flak over the years for not making enough money.

This year, Foursquare made a big push for monetization. It’s new ad product allows third-party advertisers to use its data to target ads on external ad networks. It also introduced in-app ads and paid promotions.

One of the company’s challenges is what VentureBeat’s Ricardo Bilton called FourSquare’s “user intent problem.” Users open the app to find new and different places to go, but most of the businesses paying FourSquare are not those places (read: Taco Bell).

FourSquare was one of the earliest and most exciting success stories of the social-local-mobile movement. Since then hordes of startups have attempted to follow in its footsteps and help users figure out where to go and what to do in their city. Attracting users and making money are the two biggest challenges — FourSquare is doing well on the first front, and the new app could help with the second.

The new push notifications provide a valuable opportunity for local businesses to attract nearby(and new) consumers. It is transitioning away from gamified location check-ins and towards becoming a local discovery and recommendation app.

If Foursquare can prove that it consistently drives more visitors to businesses, it can also give those local businesses a more convincing case for why they should buy Foursquare’s paid products.

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