Among other things, they’ll need to develop an exchange of monetary value or utility. Foursquare knows this and has been vocal about it. Meanwhile, I’ve seen two announcements in as many days that suggest we’re moving in that direction.
The first is Foursquare’s announcement that it will partner with fitness management company RunKeeper. The deal will allow RunKeeper’s users to gain Foursquare prizes and designations (including badges) for doing things other than checking in (a first for Foursquare). Those actions all relate in some way to fitness milestones tracked on RunKeeper.
The second announcement is from GetGlue, a company that lets you check in to TV shows and other events and receive mailed prizes such as collectible decals. This week, it formed a handful of partnerships with television networks (joining its existing deal with HBO). Checking in during airings of “Mad Men,” for example, gets you these giveaways.
Beyond engaging users and getting them to watch these shows, GetGlue and the networks benefit from follow-on marketing. They’ll also get a fair amount of viewer analytics from the check-in activity. But the main point is that it’s another step toward connecting the dots between online and offline activities.
Panning back, there are lots of commercial implications to this general concept, given that most commercial activity happens offline. This is the principle behind Foursquare et al, but they have a long way to truly reach it. Expect a lot more of these features and companies to emerge.