Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple and Foursquare were talking about a “data sharing” deal. According to the article:
The talks, which took place in recent weeks and involve Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue, are the latest sign of Apple’s plans to more tightly integrate local services into the iPhone and iPad. The discussions with New York-based Foursquare come as Apple has been talking to a number of companies that collect local data to improve its new mapping product. The maps service, released in September, has had a rocky reception and faces fierce competition from Google.
This may well be a good move for Apple to integrate Foursquare’s qualitative and quantitative data (tips, likes, check-ins) into its Maps product — and potentially Siri by extension. However it makes less sense if Apple is trying to use the Foursquare database of places to improve the quality of its own local database. (It might make Foursquare yet another data source for verification purposes, however.)
An independent analysis of the relative quality of local databases by Implied Intelligence found that Foursquare’s local business coverage was the weakest of the leading local sites evaluated. However that analysis was done in Q1 2012. Data quality and coverage may have improved considerably since then.
Yesterday Facebook upgraded its “Nearby” feature and turned it into a full-blown local search tool, which uses a social-ranking methodology similar to Foursquare. The new capability will challenge leading local search providers such as Google, Yelp and others but it may represent the biggest challenge to Foursquare.