April 18, 2024

Bucks: Do Tips on Nearby Bargains Outweigh Privacy Concerns?

Checking in to Foursquare on a smart phone.Noah Berger for The New York TimesChecking in to Foursquare on a smartphone.

Ever been in an unfamiliar neighborhood, hungry but without much cash in your pocket? That’s where Cheapism would like to come in. The Web site, which helps you find bargains and inexpensive products, is now offering a “location-based” version.

Cheapism has teamed with the social networking site Foursquare to offer recommendations for a meal that won’t put a big dent in your wallet — with the added perk of telling you if, say, your friends liked it, and whether they happen to be there at the moment.

For those (me included) who haven’t embraced mobile social networking offered by the likes of Foursquare, Facebook Places and Gowalla, all this might sound a bit complicated. But Cheapism’s co-founder, Max Levitte, assures me it’s not.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say you are a Foursquare user who tracks Cheapism on your account. When you use the Foursquare app on your smartphone to “check in” to a location — that is, you let your friends know where you are, electronically — Cheapism alerts you if there are nearby restaurants that it recommends. (Foursquare and its ilk let users accumulate points for repeated check-ins, which can eventually lead to discounts or coupons.)

Cheapism doesn’t do its own reviews, but it scours existing sources like Zagat’s, TripAdvisor and UrbanSpoon to create a short tip. For instance, Cheapism’s offerings for Venice Beach, Calif., note that Canal Club offers $2.50 tacos on Tuesdays. “We may not be groundbreaking, but we’re practical,” Mr. Levitte said.

The service is available in more than a dozen major cities, including New York, San Francisco and Chicago, and is beginning to branch into smaller markets in some states, like Florida. Cheapism’s restaurant tips have been available on Foursquare for almost two months and have about 16,000 followers.

Location-based services seem to be catching on, despite some uneasiness about their potential for invasion of privacy. A recent survey by Comscore found that nearly 17 million mobile phone users used such “check in” services, with 12 million doing so on smartphones like iPhones or Android phones.

Do you think links to bargain dining and shopping override privacy concerns with location-based services?

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=1d33901ed431f0a75154992b2a13b660

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