The location based app market has been popular for quite some time now, with its major players becoming household names. Foursquare, Gowalla, and upstarts like Booyah's MyTown are showing impressive user numbers and gaining traction among mobile users. Yet at TechCrunch Disrupt last week, two new startups showed promising twists on location-based services (LBS). DeHood aims to create a new community vibe through its iPhone app and website, each of which pulls in information about their local area. Yet possibly more disruptive is SCVNGR, which takes the game dynamics present in Foursquare and makes them the center of the service, instead of placing them on the periphery as Foursquare does.
Making Checking in Fun Again
Foursquare is designed to one day become a social and local utility, with social gaming mechanics designed to encourage checkins and to get people to use the platform more frequently. With SCVNGR, going to somewhere and checking in isn't enough. Instead, they make the entire world a scavenger hunt. At Disrupt, challenges included "Double Down," with users suggesting companies for venture capitalists to invest in, or "Give me a 'T'," wherein users had to spell out TCD with random scraps they found at the conference.
SCVNGR has spent the past couple of months working with institutions like colleges and museums to build "treks," which are essentially scavenger hunts. These are designed to drive more traffic and interactivity with the institutions. One could theoretically travel through the Metropolitan Museum of Art doing a trek, a highlights tour of sorts that was designed with SVNGR. The app includes social features as well, allowing users to see where they rank against their friends and the treks their friends had previously completed.