Foursquare in the spotlight: Apple may ally, Facebook looks to attack

Two Silicon Valley giants are turning their focus on Foursquare, though in very different ways.

The Wall Street Journal reports Apple is looking to the popular social check-in service to help its beleaguered Maps app integrate more local-services data.  Not content to challenge Google Maps, Apple reportedly wants to offer listings that are comprehensive enough that users won’t feel the need to go to a search engine at all, keeping Google entirely out of the loop. Cupertino-based Apple has been bolstering its local listings in recent months, the report notes, and has been working with Yelp to incorporate user reviews in an effort to challenge Google in local search.

A partnership could benefit both companies. Apple’s Maps app became the object of much derision over the inaccuracy of its listings when it was released in September. Access to Foursquare’s 20 million registered users and its well-established listings could immediately improve Maps, while opening up the massive iPhone market could be a boon to Foursquare, which has drawn worries from investors over slowing growth and increased competition.

Meanwhile, Menlo Park-based Facebook is launching a direct challenge to Foursquare with the release of it own local-services app, dubbed Nearby. The new mobile app lists nearby businesses that your friends have “Liked” or recommended.

While, for the time being at least, Nearby lacks an option for detailed reviews, Facebook’s massive user base (250 million people a month use its location services) could give it a huge, more personalized advantage over Foursquare and Yelp.


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