(Originally published on Bub.blicio.us, a blog published by Brian Solis covering the latest on the emerging social web.)

When Foursquare, the coolest lbs kid in town, favorite of approx. 3 million users with 200 million check-ins, was down earlier this week, the social web reacted with frustration, sad tweets, and hunt for alternative check-in services. Apparently, the most dedicated Foursquare users hooked on rewards and badges even chose to stay at home , until they were able to collect rewards of their check-ins.

“We are hearing from many users (they want to remain anonymous) that they are staying at home until the service is restored. One user called us on our tips hotline noting that it just “isn’t worth going out if you can’t get a badge”.”

The concept of check-in also continues to heat up among businesses, especially fashion industry going gaga over the new ways location based services allow brands to interact with, as monetize their customers. Good example of how hot it is, Swedish retailer giant H&M just launched their first Foursquare campaign in Sweden, regardless the fact, that use of location based services is still fairly moderate in Sweden. Gowalla holds the pole position with 35 000 users against Foursquare’s 9 000 users. The buzz and eyeballs around the campaign evidently are worth as much.

Sharing location was seemingly hot concept already back in 2007, when Facebook filed for a patent on general sharing location mechanisms. The patent was granted this week, adding an extra twist on the already competitive space.

Swedish Map.pr Finds You Interesting Places With Help Of Groups

The one not afraid of patents and competition is Swedish Map.pr. Map.pr is all about location around groups and interests, based on the idea that your friends make the best maps. Map.pr uses places from Foursquare, building enhanced search on top to let you find cool places nearby recommended by your group members. No need to trust the “Giraffe sign” 🙂

I’ve been one of the beta testers, and since its release in July, the app has already had thousands of downloads. When you check in with Map.pr, you still check-in with Foursquare, so you don’t miss out on any badges or mayorships. But what’s unique to Map.pr, with any check-in, one can also check-in with a group one belongs to. To give a sense of a venue’s popularity, unlike Foursquare, Map.pr iPhone app also shows how many individual and team check-ins a venue has. Anyone can create its own group, and the possibility to create and add venues via Map.pr is being added in the next coming update. Until now, it’s only been possible to check-in to already existing venues.

There’s no native Android app on the roadmap, instead an updated mobile web version with check-in functionality is round the corner. Check-ins with Facebook Places, which hasn’t reached Nordics yet, aren’t yet allowed by Facebook API, but instead Map.pr is about to integrate with new Facebook Groups, released earlier this week with both privacy blunders as upsides, to let you share check-ins within a group, private or open. As before, one can share check-ins to both Facebook and Twitter. Gowalla users have, for now, been left out of the service.

Map.pr White Label To Boost Businesses’ Customer Engagement

Cartomapic, the startup behind Map.pr, was founded early 2010 by a team with backgrounds in Google Maps and Spotify, surely qualifing regarding domain competence within location and app design. But, as all social check-in services, they’re about understanding and triggering human behaviour. Since grouping and categorizing venues as function isn’t considered a long term competitive advantage, Map.pr needs to do something else differently. One way is to monetize by competing with a more attractive price model on partnerships than its established competitors. It also plans to offer its solution as a white label, letting businesses create their own branded check-in services around events, releases etc. I find the idea of focusing on aggregating check-ins and information from several location based services, e.g. like Buzzd does with hottest venues nearby right now, compelling. By also aggregating check-in info into a comprehensive recommendation system for groups, I could see how Map.pr just might find its way to the end of the rainbow. And Yes, Map.pr is hiring!

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