Foursquare lands Starbucks as partner; geolocation meets lattes

Mobile geolocation startup Foursquare has landed Starbucks as a partner.

The next time you visit Starbucks, you might be awarded with a 'barista' badge.

Mobile geolocation startup Foursquare has landed Starbucks as a partner, according to a Bits report. If you're unfamiliar, the company offers an eponymous mobile that allows users to "check in" at locations and share that information with friends.

(Frequent visitors get crowned the "mayor" of a location. Certain actions wins a user "badges." See my previous coverage for more about the service.)

Initially designed as a game, the company has been making aggressive moves to monetize the service as a business-friendly enterprise, striking deals with brands such as Bravo, Zagat, Harvard University, the New York Times and Lucky magazine.

On Tuesday, Foursquare announced that it would introduce free tools made specifically for businesses, such as statistics dashboards that reflect customer behavior.

The Starbucks deal is mostly intended to allow the coffee company to get customer preference feedback and offer rewards to loyal customers.

Users can earn the barista badge after checking in to five separate stores. Starbucks is still figuring out how to reward people for frequent visits, according to the report.

Still curious about how this all works? Read this exhaustive introduction to geolocation apps by my CNET colleague Caroline McCarthy, who's reporting from the SXSW Interactive festival in Austin, Texas alongside ZDNet Web Life blogger Andrew Mager.

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