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Foursquare ousted? Google sneaks out Latitude leader boards

No mayoral frippery, green stars will be your only reward

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Over the weekend Google has tweaked its location-sharing Latitude product to enable checking in, following the trend which has failed to make money for Foursquare or Facebook.

The feature was rolled out with uncharacteristic humility from the Chocolate Factory, and slipped into an over-the-weekend update. It offers nothing in the way of rewards other than peer-recognition as points gained from checking into locations get posted onto a leader board.

Latitude Leaderboard screen shot

There's no mayoral status, crowns or other incentives, users have to content themselves with a star and the knowledge that they're unlikely to get ousted from the top position given no one else is using Latitude these days.

Foursquare more or less invented the concept of checking into locations, and was aped by Facebook, which was quicker to notice that despite being cheap to run, the system didn't produce any revenue. Foursquare recently refocused on promoting events and businesses, having realised that its only existing revenue stream - selling t-shirts with its company logo on them - wasn't going to repay the $71m in VC cash it has spent.

Google is a past master at making money where others struggle to turn a profit, but even the Mountain View magic wand will have a hard time making dosh out of users checking in to locations, which probably explains the low-profile launch. ®

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