Maybe what happens in Austin (and the South by Southwest conference) should stay in Austin.
SXSW strikes me a great place to have a good time, do some networking/socializing and take in a few panels. But it also seems like a lot of navel-gazing and backslapping happens. As well, you have to keep in mind SXSW is where the digit-rati come to roil themselves into a lather about the next, new shiny toy.
Case in point is Foursquare, Gowalla and the location-based services world. If there was one blog post about LBS, there were a hundred about how SXSW was going to be the big launch pad – much like Twitter jumped out of obscurity and into the mainstream in 2008. The buzz about LBS is just another illustration of how the high-tech world keeps consumers engaged and, hopefully, buying.
And while I’m sure a lot of people used Foursquare and Gowalla during SXSW, I didn’t get the impression from the coverage or tweet-age that LBS was all the rage. But that didn’t seem to stop some people from proclaiming “Long live Foursquare; say goodbye to Twitter”.
Case in point is CNet’s Daniel Terdiman, who declared that Foursquare and Gowalla are “forced to be reckoned with this year”. Aside from lots of buzz and blog enthusiasm, I think Terdiman’s assertion is premature. So fare, Foursquare and Gowalla are still small, niche services that have yet to demonstrate they’re anything more than novelties renting the spotlight until the next shiny trinket comes along.
While you can draw comparisons between the early days of Twitter and Foursquare, the biggest difference is Twitter exploded because it offered lots of different people value as a user-friendly service to communicate, share, market and sell. While Foursquare has potential, I don’t see the same kind of mainstream utility. That could change as Foursquare evolves into more than simply a service to broadcast where you’re located, but until that happens, my enthusiasm will be held in check.
Do you agree with Terdiman or think he’s part of the hype machine?
More: Looks like there’s some backlash about SXSW Interactive, and how it’s evolved.