Great article over at ReadWriteWeb about the decline in usage of check-in services such as Foursquare, Facebook Places, Gowalla et al. It notes that, whilst these services boast about the increase in new users over time (a linear analysis, which always looks good over time), active users - as a percentage value of all users - is decreasing... rapidly.
The article offers great insight as to why this is (it's tech-elitist (not mainstream enough), offers little point or value exchange for checking-in, is too limited in support by major bricks-and-mortar companies) and I largely agree with most of the article. I've tried a number of the services, and beyond a few check-ins, I quickly got... well... bored. When someone I knew popped up via Foursquare saying "I'm at Tesco in Shoreditch", my reaction - as it would be if they phoned me to tell me that instead - was "So? Good for you".
Plus, I was constantly bothered by something the article didn't cover: privacy. As soon as I started checking-in to places, it was painfully clear that I wasn't in other places. This is great news for thieves and ne'er-do-wells.
The whole idea needs a radical overhaul for me, otherwise it's at real risk of going the way of the dodo. Checking-in needs to become more appealing to the masses, and not just through discounts (great point in the article: If I'm already in Starbucks, what's the point of giving me $1 off?).
For businesses such as Foursquare, who acquired $20 million in funding, this needs to be taken seriously... others the smell of bursting (dotcom) bubbles is going to start wafting around the place again as VC's race to throw money into things that may not be the next big thing...