Foursquare also revisited its leaderboard and its simple points system and Sunday night reset, replacing it with a sliding seven-day barometer of users and their friends. Users' check-ins now generate points for different actions, ranging from discovering new places and trying new restaurants, to visiting new cities and hanging out with old friends.
"From the early days, we've heard stories of Foursquare's game mechanics being a subtle motivator for trying a new restaurant or venturing a little further away from your local haunts. We're excited to see how some of the new elements we've added will encourage people to actively explore the world around them," said Crowley.
When Crowley attended his first SXSW show in Austin, Texas, in 2009, he and Selvadurai returned to their New York City office with a roster of 5,000 users. Today, Foursquare boasts almost 7.5 million users and saw close to half a billion check-ins last year, he said.
"And while the numbers are great, this was a challenging year for us: scaling infrastructure from 100,000 to 7,500,000 users is hard; growing a company from 5 to 50 people is hard. And that's why we didn't expand the Foursquare experience as much as we hoped to... a lot of people still look at us as a 'game built on check-ins,' while we had dreams of being something much bigger," said Crowley. "It feels great to be making progress on things we've wanted to build for years and it's even more exciting to have you all along for the ride."
Indeed, location-based services are far more valuable than mere games, translating into serious money for some savvy social media marketers. Twenty percent of mobile users visited a physical store in response to a location-based ad, according to JiWire's Mobile Audience Insights Report, released in February.
"Consumer demand for location-based services and reception to location-based advertising continues to increase dramatically, with companies like Groupon, Facebook, and now even Google getting into hyperlocal deals," said David Staas, senior VP of marketing at JiWire, in a statement in February. "Localized ads help consumers find the best deals and venues in their area and, as location-based services become more mainstream, people are becoming more willing to give their location to reap the benefits of relevant promotions and discounts."
When it becomes available this week, the BlackBerry upgrade will not have all the features available to iPhone and Android users, he said. In response to user requests, the company also is working to make sure its software is available on all platforms, including Nokia Symbian and Microsoft Windows phone, said Crowley. He did not, however, provide a timeframe.