When Foursquare first launched, it was a novelty — a way for friends to keep tabs on each other and collect points and badges. Over the past year, the location-based app has moved away from badges to focus on better discovery, recommendations, and other consumer-driven data. But that doesn’t mean that the check-in is dead; none of Foursquare’s data would exist without it.

Following the Explore revamp, the company has once again aimed its focus at check-ins. Last month, Foursquare gave members the ability to check in their friends — a feature that has a lot of potential to increase check-ins at your venue. Now, it has released an all-new app for the full range of Nokia’s S40 phones, enabling hundreds of millions of people around the world to access Foursquare.

According to Nokia, last year it sold 1.5 billion units of its S40 phones, with mobile consumers in developing markets opting to buy feature phones over more expensive smartphones. Last week, the company debuted two 3G-capable feature phones that are specifically designed to provide individuals with quick Internet access.

Inexpensive doesn’t mean non-existent. According to figures from StatCounter, Nokia’s S40 is third after Android and iOS for worldwide mobile platform market share, with 13.9 percent of the market currently. Having a strong presence on these devices — which includes Nokia’s Asha handsets — could be a good way for businesses looking to target individuals in emerging markets.

Foursquare isn’t the only social network to branch out into the feature phone arena. Both Twitter and Facebook have gone out of their way to create better mobile experiences for people within emerging markets. Smartphones might get the most attention from the press, but feature phones still have a very diverse and loyal user base.

But why should more check-ins matter? That’s simple: more check-ins mean increased visibility for your business on Foursquare. The company’s discovery engine pulls in signals from check-ins, tips, and other information from nearby members. The more people interacting with you on Foursquare, the more likely to are to appear in search results and recommendations.

[Via: Mashable, Image credit: Kenneth Lu]