UTSanDiego.com

What's Apple Doing With Foursquare?

Tickers in this article: AAPL
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apple's(AAPL) "Mr. Fix-It," the guy responsible for iTunes and tweaking MobileMe so it was capable of becoming iCloud, has recently been given a promotion by CEO Tim Cook. In the reorganization that sent Scott Forstall packing, Eddy Cue gained responsibility for fixing Apple Maps as well as Siri.

So I pay attention when Eddy Cue says or tweets something.

He's not that active a tweeter, actually. Before a few days ago, the last time Cue tweeted was after the Heat beat the Thunder to win the NBA title in June. And before that, the only time he tweeted was to promote some new piece of music he was listening to on iTunes, using the now defunct Apple-made Ping service.

Well, in the last week he's tweeted twice on consecutive days. Both were Foursquare check-ins: one at Apple's Cupertino headquarters on Wednesday and the second at Madison Square Garden the next day to watch the Lakers and Knicks play.

Does this mean anything? I think so. It's quite likely Apple's looking to buy Foursquare.

Cue has had his hands on quite a few important Apple acquisitions over the years, including buying Lala from Bill Nguyen. That service eventually grew into iTunes Match and other parts of iCloud.

He's probably the Apple executive most familiar with social networks given his work with Ping and now with Siri and Maps.

Foursquare naturally fits into both of those latter Apple services. They are also going to be important to layer over any commerce services that Apple integrates with its Maps or Siri services. There have been numerous rumors that the next version of iPhone -- 5S -- to be launched in six months, will have near-field communication. That would most certainly be an add-on to Apple's brand-new PassBook offering for purchases and brand loyalty cards.

Although many have criticized Foursquare for having limited revenue generation potential in a crowded space, it has an enormous amount of local merchant data. In fact, this knowledge base is often piggy-backed on by other start-ups who don't want to re-create the wheel. Apple would be interested in them for that data and what Apple could do with it -- not for whatever revenue Foursquare is generating from that today.

Foursquare has been moving away from the personal check-in to being known as a service that tells you where your friends are, what they're doing, and giving you suggestions for where you can spend your money. All those things are very interesting for Apple -- especially remembering that Apple is going to be making a big push to get in your car as well in the coming years.

Apple already has a good partnership with Yelp(YELP) , but I don't see why buying Foursquare would threaten that.