When Loopt released its iPhone app alongside the App Store launch in 2008, it seemed to have everything going for it. Founder Sam Altman was given time on stage at WWDC to show off the app. It was featured prominently in the App Store for a while. And it was really one of the first hot location-based services. But then it cooled off, partially because the app needed to be open to update your location. And since the iPhone didn’t allow for third-party applications to run in the background, it was severely hamstrung. Meanwhile, a series of check-in based location apps that didn’t need to be open all the time came along and stole the location buzz. More importantly, they brought to light new business opportunities for local venues with the idea of location-based deals. Loopt’s new goal is to make a strong push for that.
As you can see in the deck we’ve obtained below, Loopt is working on yet another new product that is all about location-based deals. This deck is apparently making the rounds with a bunch of agencies and advertisers, as Loopt hopes to get them on board when they launch they app in a few months. The new app is called LooptCard. Clearly, from the deck it will run on the iPhone, but it should also work across all the major mobile platforms, we’re told. And these advertisers are being told that Loopt already has several retailers and venues on board with deals for when they launch.
So why is it any different than what Foursquare, Gowalla, and most recently, Yelp, are doing with location-based deals? It would seem that Loopt is trying to convince venues to use their system by offering the most customizable deals to give away. For example, certain deals are only unlocked if you do certain tasks, such as check-in at a certain time of day. This could be enticing to venues because while something like a coffee shop may be busy in the morning, it may be dead in the afternoon, and may want a way to pull in more traffic at only that time. There are also incentives for users to check-in with friends, which obviously benefits the venues since it means more people in the store. There are also options to give customers real goods or virtual goods. Users will also have an easy way to see what specials they are close to unlocking.
Perhaps most significantly though, LooptCard will be built entirely on top of Facebook’s social graph, we hear. This means there is a low barrier to entry to gain new users who may be wary of signing up for yet another social network. This also means that it will be tightly integrated with Facebook Connect so that all of these deals and check-ins will pour back into users’ Facebook streams, upping the viral potential of both the app and the deal.
Loopt has tried to rebuild itself before. They’ve spun off their Loopt Mix feature into its own app and made Loopt itself more predicated around check-ins. But they’re still fighting an uphill battle since those other players either got to the check-in game first — or they happen to be Yelp, with millions of users. Loopt has also crossed into Yelp’s more immediate territory recently with a local review site.
The new application is apparently an offshoot of Loopt’s recent acquisition of the Y Combinator startup, GraffitiGEO.