Lately, in an attempt to position itself more against Foursquare, Yelp has introduced check-ins for businesses, with very familiar-sounding gaming aspects: Users can become barons, lords, kings and queens of businesses, neighborhoods and cities, respectively. They can also see which businesses their friends have visited.
Silva sees some potential in Yelp moving forward, but he does not believe that Yelp has the chops to take Foursquare head-on, as it seems to be doing.
"They need to focus on the things in their service that are unique, like Monocle," Silva explains. "They should be improving on this AR [augmented reality] service and using it to help leaders like Foursquare augment their services."
Yelp has also added the capability for businesses to offer check-in offers to loyal customers -- again, very much like Foursquare. "It will be interesting to see how this particular feature plays out. We could see statistically more positive reviews from Yelp users (because they are getting loyalty rewards), or more upset businesses that are angry they are getting negative reviews even though they are giving out loyalty rewards," Christy says.
Location-based services can have a lot or a little to offer businesses, but all of them should be watched, because ultimately connecting customers to merchants is what any LBS has to do. And beyond the desktop, pure-play start-ups are figuring how to combine where you are into unique offerings designed to deliver real value and new customers wherever those customers may be.
The LBS game is still rapidly maturing, and as more smartphones penetrate the market, businesses would do well to consider their best LBS strategy, so they can find the customers that are seeking to find them.
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