Theory: Only Ultra-Competitive Americans Care About ‘Check-Ins’

From location, to TV viewing, to beer drinking, a growing number of social connectivity services are trying to drive real-world behaviours by issuing corresponding points or social status.

Mayorships, stickers, badges – these are the rewards new mobile apps confer on us for supplying them with the data of our daily activities. But there’s one potential stumbling block which could stop this gamification going global, according to a controversial theory I heard this week…

“There is a huge trend in the US that has fuelled the likes of GetGlue, Miso, YapTV, Intonow and all the rest, all leveraging off Foursquare,” Zeebox CEO Ernesto Schmitt told me. “‘Check-in’ is this concept of gamification, which is fundamentally American.

“Americans and all of American society have a big thing about competitions about everyday activities – that’s why all of these all of these check-in services are built around reward structures. GetGlue will physically mail you stickers so you can show off which shows you’ve checked in on.

We don’t see gamification as being anywhere near that importance or acceptance in Europe. In user testing, Zeebox rated bottom when talking about gamification and check-in. Europe is just culturally different from the US on that.”

From this October, Zeebox will let TV viewers share and engage “socially” around their viewing habits. But it will endeavour to automate the process because Schmitt and his CTO Anthony Rose hate the “check-in” concept.

Rose laments the “terrible GetGlue”. “Some of the people who make these companion apps are just app makers,” he says. “None of the existing apps – and I’ve tried them all – do anything for me. Almost all of them require more input to get set up than you ever get out of them.”

Half of Foursquare’s 10 million users in the States, the mobile location company tells paidContent.