Foursquare announced a big milestone today: The location-based social networking service says it has more than 10 million members.
By sharing that number, as well as related maps and figures, Foursquare is trying to show that it's becoming a service with mass appeal. It obviously hasn't matched Twitter's popularity, much less Facebook's, but at least Foursquare has grown beyond early tech early adopters in New York City and San Francisco.
So, for example, the company says that its members have checked in 4.7 million times on Main Streets across the United States, and they've also checked in 358 million times outside the US. And its growth seems to be accelerating: After launching in March 2009, Foursquare took a little more one year than to reach 1 million members. Apparently it took a little more than another year to increase that number by an order of magnitude.
But Foursquare's news doesn't really address the biggest criticism heard about the service, that most people will quickly tire of check ins that serve very little purpose. As any Foursquare fan can attest, first-time users frequently ask, "Okay, I've checked in. Now what?" And they know as many people who have signed up for and then abandoned Foursquare as they do people who've stuck with it. The real question, then, isn't how many people have signed up for Foursquare, but how many are still active in a given month. And a Foursquare spokesperson declined to provide that number.
And if Foursquare does have a healthy amount of active members, it still faces another big question: How is it actually going to make money?