We see a lot of stories on the success of Foursquare, or better, the lack of success. The tool is popular with 10 million users world-wide, but absolutely per country the use is modest. A Dutch analysis show for instance that only 4,4% of restaurants had claimed their page, and just 1% offered specials. On the other hand, 64% of the restaurants are present in Foursquare, and 71% has also people checked-in. Foursquare is relatively small compared to Facebook check-ins, but also there the use is still low.
So what to make of this kind of findings? I believe it is not so important to look to the services on its own. I think the use will still grow, stimulated with the adding of deals in Foursquare with Groupon and Facebook deals. But it will never be a mass service. A substantial part of the population will never be active in checking in.
What I think is important however, is the influence check-in services have on the development of relevant services. We will see that the services will adapt to the user, but that the user will be in the lead to activate these relevant services. The behavior of giving permission to give relevant offers and adaptive services, is trained in the way we use check-ins tools. We can learn a lot on how these work and what makes them tick. I think the tools will integrate in services in general, will be a tool for service providers and producers to make services relevant.
In that sense it is interesting to use the check-in tools and learn what works. From playful and collecting behavior to the commercial drivers and levels of transparency to make the use acceptable. Let the check-in services pave the road for a future with ad-hoc relevant services.