App-Athy: Why I Deleted Foursquare

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the explosion of interest in “Draw Something,” the Pictionary-style iPhone/Android app from OMGPop that broke an array of records – fastest to hit number one, most global — on and on, culminating in a lightning-fast $180 million acquisition from social gaming giant Zynga.

It turns out most people like to draw on their smartphones now and then, and it’s certainly fun to do a bit of back and forth with friends. But drawing fatigue set in quickly and traffic on the game came back down to Earth almost as fast as it ramped up.

I still draw now and then, but this week I shocked my friends and family by deleting Foursquare from my phone. I had a little Foursquare problem you could say. My final stats show I checked in a head-shaking 3,387 times, held 40 mayorships (including the hard-to-hold Sam’s in Tiburon, Calif.) and earned 40 badges.

But what was I thinking?? The lesson from this is that many apps are hit-based and often highly faddish. That means if you develop apps for a living you must have your next hit in the wings — or enjoy that one-hit moment of stardom while you can. You can bet OMGPop is thinking hard about what to launch next.

Now that I have my life back, feel free to grab my mayorships. I relinquish all the airline gates and high-traffic restaurants, and look forward to drawing a little picture about it on my phone that I’ll send to no one.

So, what apps are you tired of? Tell me by posting a comment below.

22 Responses to “App-Athy: Why I Deleted Foursquare”

  1. NutMotion

    I for one haven’t been sticking for long with any phone game yet. I was excited about discovering a brand new mobile MMO experience,but everything out there is just faddish indeed. I guess the positive side of this is there still are breakthrough concepts to invent out there,with a lot of money to be made:p.

  2. Anything that doesn’t provide meaningful info that I actually use will not survive on my phone for long. Foursquare was never installed to begin with for that reason – i just don’t care who self-indulgently shares what cool place they’re arriving at. On a related note….time to uninstall Words with Friends before someone tries to start a new game again 🙂

  3. I still use FourSquare. But I am sure when it takes up too many cycles in my busy brain it will be dropped. I play words with friends with one friend and my wife. We also play Hanging too. I had a friend drop Hanging just last week. Draw Something is a pretty cool app but I already have one friend who dropped it. If my wife didn’t enjoy my pictures…I’d probably drop it. It is brutal on the battery.

  4. joehouin

    I still have no idea why you deleted Foursquare. “what was I thinking?!” is not thesis worthy of the article title. Also Foursquare has been a round for a while. Obviously not just a fad. I don’t understand this article. :/

    • I deleted it because when I did think about it, none of what it was supposed to do really happened – I never found my friends checked in at a nearby shop and invited them to dinner, I never got anything for being the mayor of 40 places- I think Chilis offers free chips and some place had a coupon, but so much for the commerce side. And it was fun to compete over a hard to hold property with strangers, but in the end, why??

      I think fads can last years, but like certain hairstyles, at some point you look back and say “what was I thinking.”

  5. 3,387 check ins? Alice, I think you might have OCD. With the right meds, you may be able spend your valuable time doing something that matters, like your writing.

    Just sayin’.


  6. I think you missed a demographic of us who use it so that we can keep track of where we have been in life. Path is a little too intrusive, however, for my liking – I don’t see it so much as a timesuck I guess. If you’re looking for rewards try Belly, it worths much better in that regard

  7. This is funny. I can imagine some seedy “globalist” types in a smokey back room pondering on how they can control the human race.

    One of them gets an idea that we should all be stuck with electronic devices that constantly bother us. Buzzers or shocks or noises perhaps?


    They decide to come up with devices that we willingly allow to distract and bedevil us, participating in the operation of such devices.

    3,387 check-ins?

    And here I feel bad if I log into Eve online a couple times a month to update my skill queue.

    Where to people find the time? I must be doing something wrong here. I work my arse off and have no time for my own stuff so having some app to carry around and hit thousands of times is like an impossibility to me. I had a house once and discovered a door months after I moved in becuase I didn’t have the time to look around.

    Guess I am out of the loop. I wonder what the bad guys in the smokey back rooms have planned for people like me who won’t self-distru/act?

  8. Earl Jarosh

    …..And then there are the rest of us in the IT field. With so many things to experience in the world, I have a hard time even understanding why people spent so much time on Bejeweled, Angry Birds, Farmville, Foursquared, and the like walking around in a daze. If I can get any free time, I go fishing or play my guitar or mandolin or just enjoy the silence of my phone. These devices like my phone are an evil necessity in my field and with apps like Teamviewer, allow me to finally un-tether from my fixed computer for my 24×7 career. Most of the time these smart phones work better as a computer than a phone. Haight Ashbury had nothing compared to the current turn on, tune in, drop out smart phone revolution. I guess Heuy Lewis finally got his new drug. Who knew it would be electronic and you would have to pay for your fix monthly. 🙂

  9. All this, and no shameless plug for my iOS Apps to Save You Time and Money article?
    Well, I will shamelessly plug it. Even though it is iOS focused many are available for Android (and even other platforms).

    If an app does not actually add any value where it promised it, then it goes in the trash. I am closing in on 400 apps, but about 20% of them get tossed because they tout themselves as one thing, but are really just trojans to my data for marketers or simply wastes of time and battery power. My Article discusses things such as FourSquare that offer very little for something very valuable.
    I dumped Foursquare about a year and a half ago because it added no value.

  10. Cyricc

    I think what you’re describing is actually “gamer-apathy”. Foursquare is a very simple, causal, and multiplayer game. As an avid gamer myself there were many times where I ask myself “but why does it matter that I’m top of my class, guild, server, ect” and in the end it’s about the satisfaction if personal acquisition. There was a study a read (can’t remember where out by whom) that claimed virtual acquisition triggered the same neurological pathways that real-life acquisition does. Spend two weeks trying to get that mayor spot? Your brain tells you that was a real battle for a much wanted and prestigious award. The problem like you say is that we have no tangible evidence of our accomplishments. So when it’s all said and done, you have to look deep inside yourself and ask: “Does it make me happy?” Surprisingly most people say yes! However there are some that say no and abandon there quest for virtual glory.

    Excellent article.

    • That was so well said – it is gamer apathy with a mix of social apathy combined. On the game side as you said, the rewards were not meaningful enough, and on the social side – being tied to my friends sharing their locations didn’t really add up to anything.

  11. Steve

    Makes me glad that I’ve been a bit of a Luddite in regards to my Smartphone usage. I don’t use any “social” apps at all. Nor anything like banking apps that could expose me to identity theft. And besides, what has happened to us? I see people in public settings, busily engaged with their little screens. What happened to being aware of who is around us and engaging with people who are actually present?

  12. jaybuck

    I really like the Foursquare as a company and I was always hoping they could come up with something truly valuable for me as a Foursquare user. I got a few things like free dessert at a couple restaurants, but not enough to make it worth my while over time. Considering the huge value they have locked up in the history of people’s checkins there has to be some way the could use that to help their users. Their current recommendation system is sadly pretty weak. I continue to wish them well.

  13. Roger

    I don’t have a smart phone for personal use, though I do have one for work use. Personally, I have much more important things to do with my time than play games on little gadgets. Now, if there is an app that will help in my studies (IT – Networking), then I am interested. Honestly, the screens are just too small for any real use. IMHO! Nonetheless, hope you all enjoy your time with your phones! 😉

  14. I have been on Fsq for almost 2 years. Leaving useful tips and moving up the leaderboard does seem to have some impact on my psyche (like Cyricc commented above).

    What I’ve noticed though is that just about the time my non-social friends get invested on any given channel (just last night my friends engaged in the ‘check-in’ ritual everywhere we went), is just about the time I’m ready to ‘check out.’

    Though recently I checked in at Apple HQ only to receive a comment from a friend that his son works there on Siri…creating an even deeper conversation about the technology.

    So, maybe I found a new purpose for the old dawg?