Gowalla announced that it is going in a new direction today at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference.
Gowalla, which began as a check-in app, now views check-ins as "transactional". The company says it wanted to do something faster, more connected and memorable. MG Siegler, who describes the new Gowalla as being all about travel and storytelling, explains:
When you load up Gowalla, the first thing you see is still a main activity feed. Here you’ll find the activity from your friends. Because Gowalla isn’t completely pivoting away from their core location functionality, much of the data and social connections remain intact. But instead of a stream of check-ins, you’ll notice people hanging out together. They’re checking-in, but they’re also taking pictures and talking to one another in clusters that are known as “Stories”.
There is also a Guides feature, which provides travel guides (25 at launch) from various partners, including: Disney Parks, National Geographic, Stanford, University of Texas, University of Florida, and University of Oklahoma.
Blown away by the response this morning to what we've built with your help. It'll all be live soon!
@lonelycoo No exact date at this time, but we're hoping for very soon!
@videren The initial launch will just be for iPhone, Android and web, but we hope to have an iPad update later on!
In May, Beyond put out an infographic showing how social location app are used. They found that 90% of users check in on Facebook, while 22% check in on Foursquare and just 6% on Gowalla. That's a good reason for Gowalla to focus less on the check-in element, although even Foursquare would gladly admit that there is much more to be done around the check-in. The check-in itself is not the endgame.