Instagram is reportedly testing tags powered by Facebook Places instead of Foursquare check-ins in an update that recently rolled out to select users. The switch, first noticed by Fast Company, doesn’t change the Instagram experience at all, but does signal territorialism on the part of parent company Facebook.
An Instagram spokesperson told Fast Company that the app is “constantly testing experiences” and that users will still be able to share their check-ins with Foursquare, Twitter, Tumblr and other social networks. So Foursquare won’t be cut off completely, but even if Instagram did abandon the social check-in service altogether, it would make sense.
Foursquare has only 45 million users, but by opening up its API to just about any other app or service, the company has amassed a treasure trove of location data. Facebook likes to keep its data in-house, which is why it released Places in the first place – except not many people use Facebook to check in places. They do, however, like to tag their Instagram photos. If Facebook can switch out Foursquare for Places, they can snag all that data and build out a robust check-in service of their own.
Some have speculated that Facebook might one day want to buy Foursquare to make Places more of a real service and less of an afterthought. It would be a logical move, but now that Facebook has thrown down a few billion clams for WhatsApp, another major purchase is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
But just because Instagram may ditch Foursquare for Facebook doesn’t mean other companies will.
Actually, other companies won’t. Foursquare’s data powers plenty of major services – Uber, Pinterest, Microsoft and other companies have integrated Foursquare into their operations for a variety of reasons. On Tuesday, Foursquare announced another high-profile partnership: the new HTC One (M8) will offer personalised restaurant recommendations in its homescreen BlinkFeed – powered by Foursquare, of course.
by Caitlin McGarry, TechHive