Rumor has it that Apple is in talks about a potential partnership with Foursquare. This hearsay came right after Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue sent out an interesting tweet containing a check-in at Apple’s HQ (Valley Green 2) using Foursquare. Moreover, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley is reportedly spending a week in San Francisco, bringing people into speculation that Apple and Foursquare are exploring the idea of an acquisition.
The Wall Street Journal had earlier reported that the Cupertino, CA giant is in preliminary talks with the location-based social network about integrating Foursquare’s data into the much-criticized Apple Maps application, in an attempt to overtake leading provider Google in the battle over localized data. In the current set-up, Apple (iOS) relies heavily on Yelp recommendations to perform a few functions, most notable of which is finding a nearby restaurant. However, the close ties these two companies have are being threatened after the failure of the Apple’s map application to draw raves.
Nothing concrete has been said; nobody knows for sure if a partnership or an acquisition was being suggested. Heck, no one even knows if these meetings are going to yield anything at all. The only sure thing is that Apple is ”holding discussions with other map and content firms.“ Since Apple likes to do everything in-house and they want to own every part that makes their products useful, an acquisition is highly likely.
Analysts, on the other hand, are saying quite the opposite regarding rumors that Foursquare could replace Yelp in iOS. They believe that Yelp still holds an advantage over Foursquare in the sense that it has U.S. reviews – the New York-based service just isn’t as localized as Yelp. Additionally, the same people claimed that Yelp has been highly successful with its advertising efforts and therefore remains well-positioned to drive more revenue as it expands its local advertising base.
Apple has been on the lookout for solutions to enhance its Maps, which largely received negative reviews and even spawned memes and sites meant to deride its features. It has been made public that Cue fired Richard Williamson, the person who managed the development of Apple Maps, as soon as they learned it was a total disaster. So far, the service continues to generate controversy, the most recent being a ‘potentially life threatening’ situation featuring police officers in Australia who got lost after the mapping system on their devices offered incorrect details.
If Apple indeed succeeds in acquiring Foursquare, there will be one sure winner here – the users. iOS devotees who were displeased with Apple Maps can then rejoice because a time-tested alternative would be made available to them. It may have lesser users than Yelp, but the minefield of information it hosts is just outstanding (has more complete and updated content, especially when used outside the U.S.) and worth checking out.
If an Apple-Foursquare partnership doesn’t materialize, then it’s all good. Well, the company can always go back to the tried and true formula of admitting how crappy their mapping service was and keep apologizing for their mistakes over and over again by encouraging users to try mapping services from Google, Nokia, Waze, or their other counterparts. What Apple needs right now is a trusted service and a good algorithm that will restore it and its products to their former glory.