Fousquare adds theater check-ins. Does it make Filmaster irrelevant?

So, Foursquare introduced event check-ins, including movie theater check-ins. Now you can not only check in to a cinema like to any other building but also check-in to a specific movie in that cinema. The listings are provided by 

VentureBeat dooms GetGlue and Miso, popular media check-in apps. As a founder of the first cinema check-in app, Filmaster Mobile, my first reaction was obviously fear. How are we going to compete against that monster?? Then came pride. After all, we did it first and I guess the fact that Foursquare is copying means we did something right. Eventually, I started thinking: how do we benefit from this move? This is what I came up with.

 Foursquare cinema check-in

1. Different goals

Foursquare is a location-centered app. Its competitors are Gowalla, Bizzy or Whatser, not necessarily GetGlue, Miso or Filmaster. 

Those are two different markets with different business models. Foursquare wants to give users on the go the best recommendations what to do on the go. So the use case is – you are somewhere downtown and you are wondering what to do, you check the app and it tells you – go to that restaurant behind the corner or go to opera or watch that movie. As one of the choices.

Filmaster, on the other hand, is a movie discovery service. We started with “Foursquare for film” slogan (picked up by the press) but what we really focus on is providing our users most relevant, personalized movie recommendations in all available channels. Cinemas came first, but in next edition of our app (currently in beta), TV recommendations and Netflix suggestions are coming, to give the user a full picture. 

Foursquare will never want to recommend you to stay home and watch TV as this is against their business model and general vision.

2. Different use cases

Foursquare is general, Filmaster is specific Just as Twitter did not become a competitor to Foursquare and Instagram by applying location and pictures, Foursquare will not endanger Filmaster for applying showtimes. It’s a matter of perception. When people want to share their current location or see what’s around, they launch Foursquare. When they want to comment on something, they do it on Twitter. When they wanna share a picture, they do in on Instagram. Similarly, when they want to learn what to watch, they launch Filmaster as it’s the app fully focused on movie recommendations, with a community of movie-lovers, not random people sharing stuff.

Filmaster cinema check-in

3. Quality of recommendations

Even though I don’t believe this is their goal, let’s assume for one minute that Foursquare will actually start providing specific domain recommendations, i.e. recommending books, whisky (btw, do you know of a good single malt recommender service? I need it desperately!), or movies. Are these recommendations going to be of good quality? I very much doubt it. On Filmaster an average user rates 100 movies. Yes, one hundred. This is a good number on which we can base when preparing personalized suggestions. On Foursquare, on the other hand, people are going to check into movies only when they go out to a cinema. Even if that happens once a week (hardcore cinema-goers), it will take 2 years for the most dedicated users to generate a similar dataset. Sure, overall, the number of movie check-ins may be bigger, but that’s irrelevant if we don’t know the tastes of individual users. 
For same reason, Filmaster provides much more precise recommendations than GetGlue, as our algorithm is specifically written to recommend movies, not restaurants, celebrities or wine.

So, summing up, a day passed and my attitute to the new Foursquare feature has changed completely. I see it now as a chance, not a threat. The more people learn that you can actually check-in to single screenings, the harder they will look for alternatives. And this is where Filmaster comes in handy. If you haven’t tried it, yet, here’s a link for you: :)

I’m looking forward to your comments either here or on Twitter.

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