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Foursquare checks-in to Mumbai: dawn of a new business paradigm built around location?

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Foursquare is a new social network service that has now become available in India (Mumbai) too, and it allows its users to check-in to various  parks, bars, museums, restaurants, whatever using their iPhone or Android Smartphone applications or by manually checking in using the mobile browser on other mobile phones.

Another social network may sound passé to many of us, but foursquare has the potential to become a game changer.

First, it is built as a game that is highly addictive. You earn points for checking-in to places and can use these points to unlock badges and can even accumulate points to became a (virtual and foursquare only) ‘mayor’ of a city.

4sq_mayor_bonus

Till some times back, becoming a mayor was only good for your ego, but now it comes with potential real-world benefits like special discounts at the checking-in place for the mayor.

Foursquare has silently revolutionized the world of online advertising, by offering discounts at locations you check-in to or locations that are nearby and thus making advertising highly location aware and relevant. For eg, if you chcek-in to a park and there is a restaurant nearby, it may offer you especial discounts if you check-in to the restaurant too.

This coupling of location and advertising based on the proliferation of Smartphones has a huge potential in my opinion and many other companies like BrightKite and Loopt are working in the same field.

How soon do you think these major location-aware applications and networks will take stronghold (read become mayor) in India? Is India ready for this new business and advertising paradigm? Remember, there are serious concerns about sharing you location, as we covered in this article on Trackcut some time back.  Would you be comfortable sharing your location publicly/with your friends?  Its not long before you will have to answer the last question!

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