Users Not Eating Up Foursquare's Dual App Strategy

Foursquare took steps last week to further distance itself from the check-in, with a new logo that replaces the check-in symbol with a red-bordered “F” it calls a mix “of a map pin and superhero emblem.” It also previewed the latest version of the Foursquare app home screen, which also does away with the check-in checkmark and emphasizes local search.

Users will be able to get personalized recommendations for nearby lunch or dinner places along with suggestions for specific restaurants or cafes based on their favorite dishes. Anyone who wants to continue checking in has to move over to the Swarm app that Foursquare launched in May. The company said three-quarters of its users are already on the new app.



 But the jury is still out on whether offloading check-ins -- the feature the app was built around -- to a separate, stand-alone app will prove ill-fated. A telling tweet by Wesley Verhoeve, founder of, showed that the App Store rating for the post-Swarm version of Foursquare is 1.5 stars versus four stars for all versions of the app to date.

In a separate tweet, Verhoeve wrote: “I’ve been a vocal fan for years. I admire their courage to make bold decisions, but I worry about this one.”

Indeed, many of the reviews posted complain about the removal of check-ins along with the gamification features like mayorships, badges and points that made the app fun to use and distinguished it from Yelp and other local search apps. Swarm, the slickly designed new home for check-ins, isn’t faring any better, earning only 1.5 stars in the App Store to date.

In short, people don’t like having to switch between the two apps. “I want info that is in Foursquare -- whether it’s location specific or about me or my friends or stats or lists to be available in Swarm…or let me still check in with Foursquare. Having to go between 2 apps is just killing it for me," read one typical review of Swarm.

With the upcoming Foursquare redesign and new logo, it’s clear the company is committed to moving beyond the check-in to focus on local recommendations. But the early response to both Swarm and the current version of Foursquare (without check-ins) suggests the plan to neatly bifurcate the functions has not gone as well as the company would have hoped. 

2 comments about "Users Not Eating Up Foursquare's Dual App Strategy".
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  1. Kevin Bullard from ILFUSION Creative, July 29, 2014 at 2:28 p.m.

    Doomed...4Sq is so New Coke

  2. Adam Broitman from McKinsey & Company, July 29, 2014 at 3:17 p.m.

    While I am not sold on whether or not Foursquare/Swarm will win, I think your argument based on ratings and a tweet by someone I don't know is ill conceived. You say "In short, people don’t like having to switch between the two apps." I think this statement is wholly misguided and founded in no substantive data. Look at Facebook's messenger strategy; are they getting it wrong too? Your piece is fine, but before making bold statements about what people want and don't want, I would do a bit more research.

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