Patience is a Virtue

They say patience is a virtue, but as technological advancements spark new product development quicker than ever before, patience becomes an even more important characteristic, particularly for those that truly support an idea from the beginning.

In many cases, technology is moving faster than the level of consumer comfort required for the mass adoption of new product or service models that people simply aren’t used to. Innovators and entrepreneurs must be careful not to mistaken slow adoption for product failure.

Four Square, for example, has been slow to catch on – but it’s potential is huge and supporters continue to believe that with time usages levels will improve. Some believe that GPS enabled products have been slower to popularize because the average consumer is not yet comfortable revealing their location. Just as the masses have grown comfortable with the privacy concerns that were raised regarding access to personal information on Facebook, I expect similar consumer tolerance of location based services over time.

According to this source, Four Square and Gowalla both had an impact at the SXSW this year, to me, a strong indication of things to come.


Foursquare: Will it Catch On?

It’s no secret that geosocial networking application, Foursquare, has been slow to gain popularity with the masses.  In a results-driven society, people are quick to dismiss ideas that do not produce immediate results, and sometimes miss the bigger (long term) picture.

Remember when Twitter was known mainly for its capacity to track the activities of superstar athletes and Hollywood celebrities?  For quite some time people questioned Twitter’s application to businesses, some of whom probably still do.   The fact of the matter is, social media strategies are being made higher priority as the corporate sector begins to realize their potential return on investment.  Companies are finding ways to engage customers and provide better service than ever before using Twitter as the basis for their efforts, and many have benefitted largely from having the foresight to recognize Twitter’s long term application.  

So before criticizing Foursquare’s current usage levels, let’s consider what ‘could be’.  Five years from now when everyone has a GPS enabled Smartphone, how will they decide where to eat dinner on Saturday night?  It’s possible that they’ll already have a place in mind, but let’s imagine for a moment that they’re downtown and looking for something different.  Maybe they’ll check their phones to see where their friends are having dinner.  Maybe they’ll check to see what other people are saying about restaurants in the area.  Maybe they’ll even see that a restaurant just around the corner is having a half price chicken wing special and that Foursquare users have rated it two thumbs up.  It’s hard to conceptualize something that hasn’t yet materialized, but all three of the above ‘scenarios’ involve capabilities enabled by Foursquare. 

Let’s not forget that Smartphones are still a relatively new development.  As more people purchase Smartphones we may see the use of Foursquare increase rapidly.  And while no one can really predict whether or not it will catch on, the potential benefits are certainly worth a wait and see approach.  Content is required to populate the application, but time is required for that content to be created and added by users (who aren’t likely to adopt the service all at once).  Rome wasn’t built in a day and even though it’s 2010, no one should have expected Foursquare to be.