Google Latitude Turns Great Guests Into the Greatest Guests
Earlier this year, I noted Google was testing a feature in Latitude that would be able to replace loyalty cards once launched. Well, the program has launched nation-wide with a handful of partners; a list that will grow very quickly. What separates Google's rewards for multiple visits from FourSquare and others? Privacy, reliability, and equality.
FourSquare surprises frequent visitors who check-in to businesses with deals and coupons, but there's no understandable pattern on how these deals are rewarded. And frequently, it's only the person who checks in the most that receives the prize.
Google Latitude works differently and frankly, it's a better system. Before you check-in the first time, you know the reward you will receive for doing so. Not only that, but you are shown the path ahead, including how many visits you will need to accumulate in order to receive each new discount. Every company can label their reward levels to suit their brand, so while you go from being SHACKreational to SHACKaholic at RadioShack, Arby's decided to rank their frequent customers from Rookie to Foodie. Similarly, discounts vary from 10% off to 2 for 1 coupons depending on the level and the business. There's a built-in flexibility for the businesses and reliability in expectations for the customers. And, best of all, it doesn't matter if someone goes to Quizno's more than you. You both receive the same reward after the same number of visits.
That's all well and good, but there's still the icky-feeling most people have when sharing their location with their social network. And here's where Google truly has everyone beat. In Google Latitude, you're not connected to everyone already. You're only sharing your location with people you explicitly choose to allow to see your location. My list is miniscule, but that's the way I feel comfortable using it. There's no requirement to share your location with anyone to participate in these deals, and that could be the key to Latitude's success.
Privacy, reliability, and equality. Three simple advancements that may finally make a location-based service something for the masses.