Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Foursquare vs. Google Latitude

I just blogged about how much Foursquare has to offer and how other platforms are lagging in their efforts to compete with this type of location sharing interaction.  Well, lo and behold, here comes Google Latitude with the addition of checkins.  I’m a huge fan of Google and everything Google related; my phone is an android phone, I prefer to use Google Chrome for the internet, and I, of course, use gmail for my email.  When I saw this article’s title “Google Latitude Adds Checkins” I immediately thought, “You have my attention.” 
Much like Foursquare, Goggle Latitude now allows you to checkin to locations when you get there.  With this new addition, it also offers various ways to check in.  The traditional way to check in used on Foursquare, logging on and manual checking in, is an obvious option for the checkins on Google Latitude.  Additionally, the user can set notifications so upon arrival it will ask if you would like to check in.  If you’re like me, you’ll probably use the “automatic check in” setting so that you automatically check in as soon as you arrive at your location.  
Because this a Google product, I will probably implement it into my daily life however I was a little surprised they didn’t do anything to compete with the game aspect of Foursquare.  I really enjoy earning the various titles and reaping the benefits from stores actively participating in the medium.  From a navigational perspective, Google Latitude does trump Foursquare in that once you locate where your friend is, Google Latitude can give you turn by turn directions on how to get there by taking you right to Google Maps.   
I think Google Latitude has a lot to compete with.  As much as a I love Google, I think Foursquare has this medium down.  Google has a loyal fan base that will actively participate in this but I think they are going to have to come up with something more interactive to really engage their users.  
What does this mean to the PR world?  With each platform evolving and changing, PR professionals have to be cognizant of what is really working.  To suggest to a client to participate in social media on the wrong platform could be hazardous to your relationship with the client.  As much as I like Google, I would still suggest the sue of Foursquare as the location checkin application.   
After writing this, I can’t help but think about how much we have progressed in technology.  I’m sure parents are loving all the different ways they can track their children now.  When phones were finally equipped with cameras and we could send picture messages, my mother would make me take a picture of the place I said I would be at as soon as I got there and send the picture to her.  I feel bad for the kids now that have to deal with their tech savvy mom logging onto Google Latitude to see where their kids are.  Of course there is a great deal of value in platforms like this during emergency situations but if you are going over to Jenny’s house to spend the night it shouldn’t be a big deal!

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