Travel . Movement frees us , engenders adrenalin , encourages speculation , broadens mind and backside in equal measure and only impoverishes the wallet . These departing thoughts as I leave the Hut for a short vacation in Uzbekistan , Turkmenistan and Iran , also drive me back to geolocational issues , the theme of my recent ” Long and Mobile Road ” blog . And never was I more sure of the convergence of local service values on the internet in ways that foreshadow the replacement of local newspapers , directories , radio , television and magazines .
In my last blog on this subject I merely mentioned Foursquare (http://foursquare.com/ and on the strength of that ( perhaps) founder Dennis Crowley went off in search of series B funding at around $80m . This round had , says the SFGate Business Insider service , ” every VC and their mother humping ( FourSquare’s) leg ” . Come to think of it , it wasn’t me who encouraged this : we rather frown on the uncontrollable urges of dogs and VCs in this village . Then came the news that the competition between FourSquare and Gowalla was resolving in favour of the former , though both had a boost at SXSW (don’t ask ) and Foursquare told Bloomberg on Friday that they had moved from 170,000 users in December to 1 million now . Also since I wrote my piece the press has quoted Facebook and Microsoft as potential bidders , and some have even imagined Yahoo buying it for $100 million. Bloomberg quote an analyst called Kip Cassino ( cometh the hour , cometh the man with the name ) as estimating location -based services at an annual ad-spend of $4.1 billion in five years ((23 April) .
The Guardian’s Jemima Kiss has the right idea in her article online on 26 April : this is the three dimensional Nectar card ( think store discount cards in the US ). Local sites in the US have tracked around 2000 businesses signing up in California , and in the UK the first signatory was – the FT .(http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2010/apr/12/foursquare-ft) We award Rob Grimshaw our prize for adroit brand association , and love the alliance with business schools alongside this .
And , no , I am not diverted by Blippy ( www.blippy.com ) , the what-I-bought-where site , and the news this week that a third of Craigslist’s income comes from advertising porn and prostitution only gets me excited in the sense that if they are getting $36m from this source , and they are the champions of free listings , then there is a great marketplace in the non-porn sector . Truth to tell , the concentration of service values on the geolocational mobile computer we will still insist on calling a phone is now and will in future become so great that , like Foursuare , new worlds will be created in the made-for-mobile sector which only come down to earth and internet when different types of processing and communications are needed. For an interesting example , look at Plyce , the French version of all of this (www.plyce.com).
At a dinner this week I found myself talking to a revered former CEO from the regional press . I mentioned the great press baron(et) of Farnham , Sir Ray Tindle , whose average circulation of his many local titles , was , when I went to see him in the 1990s , around 12,000. Yet there was real profit in his enterprizes and a huge local lock-in for services which , then , people regarded as their own . That ownership is the trick that Facebook has pulled off in the internet , and which Foursquare can do in the geolocational sphere . The Guardian think they will be at 3 million by the end of the summer , but the important matter is that each of those users feel that they are living in a village of their own making , though it is one they can take with them wherever they go . Sir Ray , when I spoke to him , said that he had just bought the local newspaper in Llanwit Major – ” Its my size of town ! ” he said . I think that he would love Foursquare and see the opportunity to define the town , and eventually the newsflow and everything else , in the virtual mind-mapping of the individual , and even create custom print for him one day .
I shall be back here in a few weeks , having missed the UK election campaign . However , I have cast my postal vote , and if my fellow citizens follow my lead then we shall have a completely new country by mid-May . On reflection , I think that geolocational services may be a better bet !keep looking »