Remember when you checked-in at every restaurant, event space, and heck even your house from your phone? If not, don’t worry. That trend is slowly dying before it ever had the chance to become something your mom and dad got into. Whew.
Foursquare was the leader of these kind of location-based apps, but has been on the declined popularity-wise for the last four years with a total of just 30 million users. The percentage of active users is unknown, but even with 30 million Foursquare falls way short of mainstream social media sites and apps like Twitter (about 500 million) and Facebook (over 1 billion).
Not to pick on Foursquare, as there are a number of similar location-based services that have or are facing a similar fate: Saga and SCVNGR haven’t really taken off as expected while Foursquare’s biggest competitor, Gowalla, has disappeared. Interestingly enough, new types of location-based gaming apps are, on a smaller scale, building slow but steadily-increasing user bases.
Games like Shadow Cities for iPhone, which came to the US in 2011, use the player’s own city as a kind of game board where they can interact with other local players, form alliances and conquer territories. It’s one step closer to World of Warcraft IRL. Google’s getting in on the location-based gaming trend, too, with their offshoot NianticLabs having released Ingress for Android devices last November. Ingress is currently in closed-beta testing and requires interested users to request an invite.
So, to summarize: Regular check-in apps are dying, and location-based gaming apps are on the rise. Whether or not these new apps will maintain popularity is anyone’s guess. It’s possible you could wake up tomorrow and learn you’ve have slept through the life and death of the latest trend (like I’m hoping to).