"It’s difficult to say which location based app is more valuable because it’s like comparing apples and oranges. If I want my friends to know where I am, I would use the service my friends use. If I want to get a discount that I’d heard about, I would use the app that provides it. If I wanted a personal record of my travels, I might use another app altogether. Beyond feature fragmentation, location based apps need to mature, and although there are signs of this happening now, the next year will see them evolve with tangible value, utility, and improved interoperability.
Brightkite, a pioneer in the space, had a very polished and functional service well before Foursquare came on the scene, but adoption was slow and niche because the general public was unmotivated. The public needed a reason the check in. They needed value. Foursquare was able to reach that tipping point through gameification, and the virtual rewards acted as a placebo until businesses and marketers were able to understand the impact and begin providing discounts, specials, and tangible value.
One challenging problem is that hyper-location just can’t scale, and these services are simply more fun and/or useful in certain cities. It will be very interesting to see how the current players begin to address this challenge and create a value proposition that resonates with a wider audience."