Foursquare Hits One Million Users… or Not

So today I jumped the gun and congratulated CEO Dennis Crowley and the Foursquare team for hitting one million users when in actuality the company fell a bit short of that milestone today. Whoops! I assumed Foursquare was using the sign up user ID as the official count to determine the one millionth user, however, Dennis Crowley corrected me and let me know that the user count was only at 983,000 the last time he checked.

After Dennis was kind enough to share that information with me I decided to do a quick calculation. According to my math, the user ID count should be at approximately 1019000 in order for Foursquare to hit one million registered users. Foursquare sees thousands of new user signups each day so Friday looks like it will be the day Foursquare crosses the milestone and joins the One Million Member Social Media Club. Well, there is no such club, but it’s not a bad idea.

When Foursquare hits one million registered users tomorrow they will have reached this milestone in just over 13 months. There is no question that Foursquare’s growth has been impressive over the last year and it definitely explains why venture capital firms and companies such as Yahoo! are trying to get in on the action.

Since Foursquare will reach one million users in almost half the time that it took Twitter to reach that same number when they were a startup, there has been a lot of talk in social media circles about the comparison between the two companies. In my opinion, it’s not a fair comparison.

You see, back in the day when there was no such thing as Twitter and Facebook there was this location-based service called Dodgeball. Dodgeball was founded by Dennis Crowley and Alex Rainert in 2000 and the service was similar to Foursquare, yet not nearly as good. The service was only available in 24 American cities and it didn’t really catch on with its users like Foursquare has over the last year. In 2005, the service was acquired by Google and in 2007 Dennis and Alex decided to quit Google since they both felt Google was not supporting the service like they expected. In 2009, Google finally made a decision to shut down the Dogeball service and it was succeeded by Google Latitude.

As you can see Dodgeball had a decent run over the years, but ultimately didn’t do very well. The service wasn’t available worldwide and it lacked a lot of the nice features and the gaming aspect Foursquare has built-in to it today, but even if Dodgeball had all the bells and whistles, I’m not entirely convinced that would have made a difference without the help of Twitter and Facebook users bringing attention to its service.

The point I’m trying to make is that no one really knows how popular Dodgeball could have become if social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook were in existence. I mean, sure, location-based services are on fire right now and Foursquare is leading the way in this space, but the way I see it, both Twitter and Facebook played an important role in Foursquare’s success by allowing Foursquare users to use their service to broadcast their whereabouts, unlocked badges, and mayorships. I’m not going to speculate how many Foursquare users signed up with the service only after hearing about it on Twitter and/or Facebook, but I have a strong feeling it’s more than just a few. While Foursquare’s growth has been very impressive, I don’t believe it would have been possible for the company to hit one million users as fast as they did without Twitter.

With that said, Foursquare is a great service and I use it on a daily basis not only for the gaming aspect and the information the service provides, but for all the discounts I receive at venues and of course the bragging rights for holding down mayorships. Are you using Foursquare? If not, you may want to give it a try.

Update: It appears that TechCrunch made the same assumption I had made earlier today in that we both thought Foursquare had hit one million users. TechCrunch author, MG Siegler, wrote an article a few hours ago congratulating Foursquare’s one millionth user. However, Siegler covered his bases by saying “Or, at least, you’re the user with the one millionth ID.” Feel free to head over to TechCrunch to read the article.

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