May 07 AT 3:38 PM Sean Riley 11 Comments

Google Latitude is poised to become mayor of check-ins?

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 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?

Via: TechCrunch

Sean has been with Android and Me for over 8 years and covering mobile for the last 9. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

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  • http://Website Andy Couch

    Google Buzz allows location based check-ins, so hopefully they will just integrate the two offerings instead of duplicating Buzz functionality in Latitude.

    • Sean Riley

      Good point, and that might also help them get people to actually use Buzz.

      • David Shellabarger

        It seems like the the less technical my friends are the more likely they are to use Buzz. I guess because its built right into Buzz and Twitter is a little confusing (3rd party apps and separate website)

      • Nickedynick

        Good point, I did wonder why Google seemed to be abandoning Latitude when Buzz was launched.

        • pauljacobson

          Google hasn’t been very good at integrating some of its services and creating a really compeling option. The tools seem to be technically pretty good but Google just doesn’t seem to be a very good social Web company despite being a great engineering company.

  • David Shellabarger

    Latitude and Buzz kinda reminds me of Android and Chrome OS.
    Google needs to figure out what they wants to do.

    • Brian Douglas Hayes

      Yeah, I kinda feel the same way. Google seems to have the attitude of “let the people choose”; throwing a bunch of similar, competing, and sometimes half-baked projects out into the world. Sometimes they take off (Gmail) and sometimes they’re ignored (Wave). Personally, I wish Google would get their teams to collaborate and making their popular stuff more useful, and eliminate overlapping/redundant products. Hate to see them turn into Microsoft with too many teams working on independent projects that never materialize (hey Microsoft, how are those Tablet PCs doing?)

      Anyway, as for my own numbers… I’ve got 3 contacts on Latitude and 30+ on Foursquare. Go figure.

  • http://Website Dee

    please dont yell at me, but what exactly are check in apps needed for? what do they provide to users?

    • pauljacobson

      You know Dee, I’ve been wondering the same thing. My Twitter followers don’t like the stream of Foursquare updates at all and I’ve disabled the Twitter posts for my Fourquare checkins and updates. Foursquare and Gowalla (to an extent I guess) may be structured as a sort of game but I’d rather have a more useful location based service. Ovi Maps is pretty good at that with its location sharing and nearby locations. Latitude would be pretty compelling if it was easier to find my friends and places I want to get to. That said, I have only just gotten an Android phone so I will be spending more time with these apps.

  • JohnnyACEâ™  GRAND MASTER SEN$Ei {{-_-}}â„¢

    Google Latitude/Buzz should allow their check-in services to be synced with Foursquare, Gowalla, and Brightkite, as well as Facebook and Twitter.


  • Michael

    Great article, Sean.

    All I can say at this point is that I hope if Google starts moving toward Foursquare and Gowalla territory, they launch and maintain stronger than they did with Buzz and Wave.