Social networking juggernaut Facebook has acquired the Austin-based check-in service Gowalla, apparently planning to put the service’s team to work on the recently unveiled Facebook Timeline service. Though Facebook has not formally announced the deal, CNN Money reports that its sources indicate that the deal will lead to the current Gowalla team taking jobs with Facebook. This could be the final chapter for Gowalla, which battled location service Foursquare with a suite of unique check-in features.
Though apparently launched on the same day as Foursquare, Gowalla set itself apart with a system for picking up and dropping virtual items at check-in locations, brightly illustrated icons for special locations, and “trips” comprised of multiple check-in locations in addition to leader boards and badges. Despite these unique services, Gowalla struggled to gain an audience. Earlier this year, Gowalla attempted to reinvent itself as a travel guide service and abandoned many of the game-like aspects it debuted with.
If the Facebook acquisition proves true, the story of Gowalla could be quite illustrative of the current state of Internet companies. Though Gowalla was (arguably) better looking than Foursquare and packed numerous new features into its service, it never managed to overtake its primary rival. It’s story could be compared to services like Google+, which despite bringing improvements to an existing model have struggled to turn those improvements into an active user base.
Though the ultimate fate of Gowalla’s services and mobile device apps remains unknown, CNN Money points out that Facebook has a pattern of dismantling acquired startups. This outcome seems especially likely since Facebook’s own location services would surely shine brighter with one less competitor in the field. For those of us with Gowalla accounts, now might be a good time to start picking the spot for your last check-in.
- Foursquare sets daily check-in record
- Become a “developer” and take Facebook’s timeline for a spin
- Checking-in could get your house robbed
- Even Obama chose Foursquare over Gowalla
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