During a panel discussion at the Web 2.0 Expo yesterday, Steve Lee, a Group Product Manager at Google, boasted some surprising figures for Google’s Latitude. At present they have 3 million active users and 8 million total registered users.
This figure dwarfs the user counts for the current check-in front runners, Foursquare (1 million) and the iPhone’s MyTown (2 million). Android is largely responsible for the healthy Latitude membership as according to Lee over 10% of all Android owners are active Latitude users.
The release of iPhone OS 4.0 will finally offer the ability for location apps to run in the background on the iPhone and so Google may see another substantial jump in Latitude use if they decide to offer a native iPhone app, but I’m not going to delve any further into that other than to say Latitude may see its already large lead grow.
So why aren’t Foursquare and MyTown quaking in their boots? Well Latitude in its current form just basically allows you to track your designated friends and has never implemented any kind of check-in function so at the moment they aren’t in direct competition. However, Lee indicated yesterday that he definitely saw them moving toward a check-in model while still retaining the existing functionality of Latitude.
If Google really decides to throw their weight behind this effort it could spell disaster for existing check-ins. I’m sure the two mentioned above would weather the storm alright, but some of the smaller apps may be operating on borrowed time.
Check-in seems to be a different kind of animal than the seemingly endless number of twitter apps that are around at the moment. No one is going to want to run multiple check-in apps for any lengthy period of time and yes I know check.in is trying to find a way to integrate a number of check-in services in one app, but it doesn’t seem particularly feasible. I’m willing to believe that there can be 2-3 options all surviving in harmony when the dust settles, but any more than that seems unlikely.
Not knowing exactly how Google is planning on implementing check-in there isn’t a lot more to say on this right now; so to spark a bit of debate on a Friday afternoon lets imagine that they are going to pull a Twitter and just buy one of the existing check-in apps to integrate with Latitude. Which app do you think they should be gunning for and why?