Geolocation is at the forefront of Social Media today - and will be the next ecosystem to scale exponentially. While Foursquare has set the tempo, it could easily be acquired, absorbed or challenged by either of the two major Internet players. And while Google's has had a long and fruitful eleven year run, Facebook is proving to be a formidable challenger as well when it comes to who will dominate the digital landscape for the next decade.
Who will win is anyone's guess? Many feel that Facebook's leg up is its Open Graph and would have an easier time building a competitive search engine. Others feel that Google's algorithms have been so fine-tuned over the years adding real-time search, that it only needs to integrate a social network to beat FB at their own game.
If the next evolutionary stage of the Internet is contingent on building a bridge between Web 2.0 and 3.0, geolocation might be the necessary building blocks to get there. But how do these monolithic entities duke it out? If this was a Japanese monster movie, who would you cast as Godzilla and who would play its vanquished opponent?
It's often been said "the devil's in the details." So perhaps the solution is as simple as a personnel change. If that be the case, one has only to look to Google's recent reshuffling of key executives for a potential answer.
Melissa MayerMelissa Mayer joined Google in 1999 as Google's first female engineer, where she designed and developed Google's search interface over the course of the last decade. During that time, she internationalized the site for more than 100 languages, defined Google News, Gmail and launched more than 100 features and products for Google.com.
As Vice President of Search Product and User Experience, she has played an instrumental role in building out Google into the search giant it is today. However, after all that success, it's been reported that Mayer is "stepping down" from her position to head up Google's location-based and local services.
While at first glance, this might appear to be a demotion - I think Google's founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are wisely applying their greatest resource where it is most needed.
Since Google's geolocation efforts up till now have been limited to Latitude which is at best is a watered-down version of Foursquare, and if Google is going to forge a new path in this space - they need someone like Mayer to be the catalyst. At her disposal, she already has the hardware. Google's Android mobile phones are flying off the shelves, stealing more and more marketshare from iPhonne. If Mayer can do for geolocation what she did for search, Google might leapfrog over Facebook Places, which is Mark Zuckerberg's first attempt at rolling out a location-based product for Facebook.
According to a recent TechCrunch report, in her new role, Mayer is wasting no time. Here you can see she's been checking out the competition and unlocking a series of badges from Foursquare's service.
Nicholas Carlson in his Business Insider report conjectured her potentially poaching some of Foursquare's staff. "The obvious question (since) half of Foursquare's staff used to work at Google, (might) they someday soon find themselves back at the company, working for Mayer?" he questions.
Ironically, Google had its own Foursquare years ago when Foursquare's founder Dennis Crowley sold its earlier iteration to Google called "Dodgeball." Now it's got to work twice as hard to play catch-up. Perhaps Ms. Mayer will be Google's secret weapon to target a geolocation check-in - and make that a reality!