Friday, April 08, 2011

Google expands check-in deals

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="188" caption="Image via CrunchBase"]Image representing Google Latitude as depicted...[/caption]

Google recently announced the expansion of Check-in deals for people using Google Maps with Latitude and Places. The program initially launched in Austin, Tx during SXSW. Check-in is now open to the rest of the country.

Google Check-in does not make a game out of your location status like other services; instead, you get rewards purely based on the number of check-ins you have at a location. As you achieve different levels, the rewards get better.

Google is starting out with discounts from American Eagle OutfittersQuiznosArby's, Macy's, Radio Shack, Finish Line, Famous Footwear, Great Clips, NaturalizerTasti D-Lite, Wireless Zone, Cellairis, and PostNet.

Google has a competitive advantage over some of the other services in that the app needed to check in is native to Android phones. Whether you are a fan of Google Buzz, Google Latitude, Google Places, or Google Maps on your phone, they all interact with each other at some point. This makes it easy for users who might not otherwise bother with check-ins to stumble upon the service.

Many users are reluctant to use Google Check-in, Buzz, Latitude, Places, etc... , because they "don't know anybody else who uses it." It may prove more difficult to persuade existing users of Foursquare, Gowalla, et. al. to try Google Check-in versus users who don't already have "friends" using those services. It remains to be seen whether the tight integration with mobile handsets will offset the momentum that the other location-based services have.

Unlike the other services, Google Check-in rewards everybody who frequents businesses. This lower hurdle to getting rewards may very well turn out to be the key to its adoption.

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