Brightkite Concedes Check-Ins to Foursquare

Brightkite, one of the first players in the mobile check-in craze, has decided to abandon that business to the likes of Facebook and Foursquare. Instead, the company said Monday, that it would be focusing its attention toward group texting, a space also occupied by VC darling GroupMe and bootstrapped FastSociety.

Brightkite, which bills itself as a service for keeping tabs on what your friends are doing and discovering new places, introduced location-based check-ins for mobile phones in 2007. The service was simple, much like Google’s Dodgeball attempt a couple of years earlier, letting users share their favorite locations from their GPS-enabled smart phones. Brightkite also introduced badges, or small rewards for the people who checked in to certain places at certain times, just like rival Foursquare.

“These features were the defining element to our company 2 and 3 years ago, but we no longer believe they are sufficiently unique or defining to be our focus, so we are dropping them,” the Brightkite team said in a blog post.

Brightkite’s new ambition is to be the text messaging service of record for all mobile phones, complete with group texting abilities. Group texting is already proving to be a hit with venture investors. New York-based service GroupMe recently found itself in the middle of a VC bidding war, giving it a valuation of about $35 million. Brightkite’s new app for Android phones rolls out this week, and includes groups, photo, and location sharing.

Check-in services will start to disappear on Dec. 17 from Brightkite’s apps and Web sites. The company is allowing users to back up their old posts and check-ins until Dec. 31.