Ina Fried

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Checking In With Foursquare’s Dennis Crowley at Mobile World Congress (Video)

Although tens of thousands of people have checked in to Mobile World Congress in recent years using Foursquare, this is the first time that Dennis Crowley has done so.

However, the youthful chief executive said that as a big mobile geek, he’s excited to see what all the phone makers have in store.

“This is like the South by Southwest of mobile,” Crowley said, referring to Austin’s annual tech and culture festival.

He’s also eager to meet with carriers and phone makers to convince them to more deeply integrate Foursquare into their devices and services.

People mistakenly think of Foursquare as just a game where people boast to their friends about all the places they have been, Crowley said, but what underlies that is a hugely powerful database of places filled with all kinds of recommendations and other inside information.

Over time, Crowley hopes Foursquare will be able to tap the aggregate data and serve it up in useful ways, as well as help individuals get personalized recommendations based on their past check-ins.

One way Mobilized tries to get a sense for the strength of the different mobile platforms is by asking time-crunched developers how they are allocating resources. Crowley said Foursquare, which now has about 50 employees, has three developers on iPhone and two each on Android and BlackBerry. The company used outside partners to create its Nokia and Windows Phone 7 apps.

As for Crowley, he’s been splitting his time between an Android device and his beloved iPhone. His well-worn phone is covered front and back with various stickers–all the easier to pick out his device, he says. But Crowley doesn’t have the iPhone 4, instead sticking with the 3GS. Crowley said his colleagues all upgrade to the latest and greatest and someone needs to make sure the service still works on older gear.

“I like to keep it one generation behind,” he said. “Someone’s got to take one for the team.”

I pressed him on the potential for dangers with all this checking-in, including concerns about physical safety. Without trying to dismiss the issue, Crowley noted that he’s been checking in with his location as long as anyone–since 2000–and has yet to have anything bad happen. The worst thing that’s happened to him, he said, is people showing up to parties uninvited.

For more from Crowley, check out the video we did in the lobby of his Barcelona hotel.

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— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”