During SXSW, Google rolled out check-in offers for 60 places around Austin, Texas, and now they've launched check-in offers all across the United States for Android and iPhone users.
"Checking in lets you share the places that you visit and add context to your Latitude location for friends and family," explains Douglas Gresham, a Software Engineer on the Google Maps for mobile team. "At the same time, you can keep a history of where you’ve been while gaining status at the places you visit the most. When you gain status at places, they can now reward your loyalty with check-in offers. From discounts to a free snack, check-in offers let places give you an extra reason to keep coming back."
"By default, you can become a Regular, VIP, or Guru at places, but we’re also letting partners create their own status levels for you to achieve (coming soon on iPhone). For example, you can become a Champion of Taste at Quiznos or an AE Gold Shopper at American Eagle Outfitters, unlocking their check-in offers at the same time."
Foursquare recently launched seven new types of offers for businesses to extend to customers. This move by Google should be seen as a direct competitor to this.
Google may have started this at SXSW, but I can tell you from having been there that Foursquare's presence was much more widely felt throughout the event and the town.
Currently, Google partners on check-in offers include American Eagle, Quiznos, Arby's, RadioShack, Finish Line, and Macy's. This will no doubt get expanded much more widely in the future.