Mayorama" has just arrived in the iTunes Application Store to help users of the Foursquare location-based social networking service more easily earn the title of "mayor," the honorary designation awarded to those who have checked in the most at a particular venue. Regular visitors to their local Starbucks, for example, can become "Mayor of Starbucks," a title which provides a discount on their next Frappuccino purchase in addition to the accompanying bragging rights. Mayors of clothing store Ann Taylor, meanwhile, receive 25% off on their next clothing purchase.A new application called "
Although rewards and discounts like this are still few and far between, as the location-based social networking space grows, achieving these coupon-friendly virtual mayorships will become more important to thrifty shoppers as well as to competitive players who simply like to accumulate their crowns.
Getting Mayor with Mayorama
With the 99-cent Mayorama app, you can check on your current mayorships, find out how many more check-ins will earn you mayor at your favorite spots around town and, using the smartphone's GPS, you can see all the Foursquare venues around you in a list and plotted on a map.
When viewing these nearby venues (dubbed "targets"), the application will also display how many check-ins are required in order to become mayor. This lets competitive users easily find new venues in need of a mayor.
The new mobile app is not dissimilar to the website at WhenWillIBeMayor.com. That online resource parses your Foursquare check-in history to find out how many more check-ins you need at your favorite spots to become mayor. It also provides a search by venue feature, but requires the venue ID to do so, making it a less useful than Mayorama's "target" listings feature. It's also less useful in general, since it's not packaged in a mobile app format.
Foursquare: No One Cares?
Although Foursquare has spawned a cottage industry filled with apps like Mayorama (500 or so apps have been built atop its platform), some in the tech industry are looking skeptically at Foursquare and its location-based social networking counterparts.
Forrester Research recently deflated expectations when it warned marketers that there's more hype than bite in location-based apps for now. Harris Interactive then backed up those findings with more data.
Chris O'Brien, a Mercury News columnist, even warns that this location-services craze may be the "next great Internet bubble."
"I'm at the Starbucks in Oversharington," he sneers, before making the reasonable argument that all these hip, emerging companies may quickly become overshadowed when Facebook launches its rumored geolocation competitor, details of which are still unknown.
He's not alone in this opinion, however. Tech blogger Steven Hodson also decried Foursquare et al. by saying "Anyone that thinks that companies like Foursquare are going to be around for any real length of time...is dreaming."
But Ben Horowitz, a partner in Andreessen Horowitz, thinks otherwise. He justified his investment in the startup (the firm led a new round of $20 million in venture funding in June), remarking that its growth is faster than Twitter's was at this same stage. "Their growth has been explosive over the past few months -- they just hit 1 million users in April and now they're approaching 1.8 million, adding around 15,000 users per day."