Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley spoke at the GigaOM Mobilize conference earlier today (video above) and chatted about where foursquare has been and where it’s headed.
One of the most interesting topics he touched on was the evolving definition of the check-in. While it’s now an active experience — you must explicitly pull out your phone and check in — foursquare is considering ways to enhance their data more passively:
We can start to do things where we can just listen to the way your phone moves through the city. That my phone has been in this building for ten minutes is a signal to foursquare that I was here today or I was at this coffee shop this morning. So we’re starting to think about how the definition of the check -in is going to evolve as things like battery life improve.
He was quick to point out that they might “collect these signals to make the recommendation engine smarter, alert you about things happening nearby or that there’s a deal at the restaurant you’re in.” It’s a completely different type of check-in that what we’re used to, not a public proclamation that you were there, but a way to enhance foursquare’s data on the backend.
Crowley focused much of the rest of his talk on the evolution of foursquare’s Explore engine as a local search utility and that, while they still get five million check-ins a day, a significant number of users are now consuming content instead of creating it. It’s much the same growth Twitter experienced a few years ago, where many users have never actually sent a single tweet.
He also expressed a frustration with the “blank maps” most utilities provide. “Harry Potter has a map where he opens it up and it’s where all his friends are and where everything is going on,” he said. “I want the map with all the dots that tell me where all the best times are, where the best mozzarella sticks are and where all my friends are. That’s the map we’re trying to build.”
“I think we’re just getting to the point where foursquare is really starting to get interesting.”