Gowalla shoots for 1 million users with new version of location service
Location service Gowalla launched within days of rival Foursquare in March 2009, only to see its competitor grow to more than 4 million users while Gowalla seemed left in the dust. This summerâ€™s introduction of Facebookâ€™s location service, dubbed Places, didnâ€™t help the perception that Gowalla was on a challenging road.
But Gowalla, which says it has â€śnorth of 600,000â€ť users, has not given up. The Austin, Texas company released a revamped version of the service on Thursday that co-founder Josh Williams says will help bring its number of users to the million-mark by yearâ€™s end.
So whatâ€™s new in Gowalla 3? For one thing, you can now view check-ins by friends who use other location services, including Foursquare and Facebook Places, directly within Gowalla, as well as check-in to those services from Gowalla. That could provide a common window to keep track of the whereabouts of friends currently kept apart on separate location services.
Gowalla is also developing tools designed to make checking-in more useful, such as a new feature that lets people leave notes at specific locations. Someone checking-in to a restaurant might see a friendâ€™s note warning them to steer clear of the egg-salad sandwich, for example, or a note recommending the margaritas.
And Gowalla has done some work to make checking-in easier and quicker, so that you donâ€™t have to waste 45 seconds fiddling with your cell phone.
While many of Gowallaâ€™s rivals are partnering with merchants to offer discounts to people who check-in, Williams says Gowalla is keener on content thanÂ coupons. The goal, he says, is to make Gowalla a sort of social networking-enhanced travel guide.
The new version of that travel guide, Gowalla 3, is initially being released only as an iPhone app.