I haven’t used the new Gowalla enough to have formulated a strong opinion but I thought I’d jot down my initial thoughts. Here are some bits from their blog post announcing the new Gowalla.
Here is the bit I really like:
“The cornerstone for this update is Gowalla’s new Social Guides. We’ve taken the best of what’s local, the places your friends love, and the recommendations from experts, rolled them all up, and have created the foundation for a collection of Social Guides to cities, parks and regions around the world — ready and at your fingertips with Gowalla.”
I love the idea of traveling to somewhere I’ve never been and being able to easily find places to visit that people – especially my friends/family – have recommended via Gowalla. I look forward to trying this out and seeing how well it works.
Here is the bit I’m not so sure I like:
“We’ve broadened our concept of “checking in” as well. We call them stories now. It’s easy to add friends to a story so you can add photos and comments together as a single experience. Eventually we’ll even bubble up the best stories within our guides, so you can relive all that was great about that film festival you’re going to.”
A check in is a very “thin” experience. There isn’t much to a check in besides; I’m here and so are these people. Everything else on these services revolves around the check in. Gowalla is trying to do something different and enhance that experience to make it more enjoyable and perhaps fun. That’s great. However, I think this is where Gowalla might lose me. I use Foursquare to check in because it is very quick to do so. I switched from Gowalla to Foursquare for this exact reason. And now with “stories” Gowalla seems to be trying to slow this process down even more. So they must be going after a very specific individual that wants to share their experiences with people in certain places, and who are willing to take the time to do that, rather than simply sharing their current location. I’m OK with this but it may not be for me. We’ll see.
I’m happy to see Gowalla going in an entirely different direction then Foursquare. I hope they find their niche and it works for them and for their community. I think we’re still only seeing the tip of the iceberg of the value of these location based services and what they will offer the world still remains to be seen. I look forward to watching it all unfold.