Location-based services offer more than just a way to say where you are. Discounts and free sample offers are popular. Clothing retailer Gap, for example, offered Foursquare users 25% off if they checked into the store's location. Ann Taylor offered a similar deal, too: 25% off for Foursquare mayors (users with the most check-ins to that venue in the last 60 days) and 15% off to each customer after their fifth check-in.
Gowalla, too, focuses on rewards. In their travels, Gowalla users may encounter "digital souvenirs," which are redeemable for real-world rewards such as apparel, movie tickets or gadgets.
And then there's the social aspect, on which Facebook seems to be focusing. "Ever gone to a show, only to find out afterward that your friends were there too?" wrote Facebook in its blog post announcing Facebook Places. Places, Facebook says, is designed to share your favorite spots with your friends and connect with them in the real world.
3. I don't have a smartphone, so I can't participate.
Few people realize that Foursquare offers two alternative ways to check in to a location: via your computer and SMS.
To check in from your computer, visit m.foursquare.com, scroll down the page and under your friends' feed, click on option two-"Check-in (tell us where you are!)" This will open to a new page where you can check in.
If your phone doesn't have a Web browser, you can use Foursquare's SMS shortcode to check in by sending a message to 50500. This is currently available in the U.S. only.
Facebook Places, however, is available right now only to those who have the Facebook for iPhone application or by visiting touch.facebook.com. This version of Places will only work if your device supports HTML 5 and geolocation.
4. Too many details of my everyday life will be shared with third parties.
Whenever you open the Foursquare app on your mobile phone, Foursquare uses the information from your phone to tailor the experience to your location-for example, it'll show you a list of nearby venues, friends and tips. This information is not published to your profile.