Is Foursquare Struggling To Crack Europe?

Feedback from the PurpleList suggests that the social app is finding it difficult to scale outside the US.

On our recent trip to Europe, the PSFK team tried checking in at several hotspots using the Foursquare application – and we were surprised about the absence of other users on the network. Even in media-savvy locations such as the West End and Shoreditch locations of Soho House, no one else seemed to be checking in. We contacted Foursquare’s PR people about number of users in the UK and although they said that 40% of their 10 million sign-ups were outside the USA, they declined to give us a breakdown of users by market. Intrigued, we checked our expert network, the PurpleList, for further insights:

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Louie Sempter, a strategic planner in London, was pretty pessimistic about the long term survival of the service and within a detailed critique he commented:

What’s more worring for 4sq is that most of the trendy London innovators and early adopters are aware of it, tried it, and rejected it. If these guys haven’t bitten they’ve never going to hit the tipping point on the adoption curve.

Ged Carroll, a digital strategist in London, says that the number of early adopters in the UK are going to be concentrated geographically:

The creative classes are heavily centralised in London, much more than say the United States. London also is a much denser centre of population than the rest of the UK – so whilst Foursquare maybe only adopted by a small amount of the population there is a critical mass of users. Once you get outside the numbers of users drops significantly, I used Foursquare in Cardiff over the past few days and there were few local check-ins.

Rakhi Rajani, a consultant in London, told PSFK that the service hadn’t managed to make the leap from early adopter to mainstream acceptance and that Facebook Places may prove to be the accepted service:

It was used initially but less so lately. Perhaps because the perceived benefits are not so apparent. It is however used by a small design/UX community who regularly adopt new Social Media tools. I think businesses here in the UK are slower to see the potential. It’s also partly cultural. Use also appears to have declined since Facebook introduced places.

Read all the responses here – and if you’re a PurpleList member, leave your comments there too.

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