Josh Williams, CEO of Gowalla, pulled back the curtain on the company’s future – creating “the world’s largest social atlas”. Unfortunately all we have at the moment are a few screen shots and a two-minute demo video. Yet I am already excited about the change.
Over the years of being a fairly addicted Gowalla user I have noticed a change in how I use the service and its apps. It started with checking in at spots around town and sharing each one on my social profiles. Thankfully my networks educated me that no one needed, nor cared, to know my every move. I then focused on the game aspect by collecting custom stamps and virtual items (and two real life items). The third and most recent phase of my Gowalla usage is adding value. Meaning, I was using the service to share photos and recommendations of my favorite hangouts, share experiences at some of my more memorable travel destinations (NYC and San Fran) and archive good times with friends.
From the early previews it looks like Gowalla is ready to reinvent itself. Not only by making it even easier for users to share experiences and record adventures, but now with a new focus on exploration. In a way it is a better fit for the company’s culture of “go” and “explore”. True to Gowalla form the mobile apps and website are well designed and look great. The true test will come when the apps are released and we can see how the service looks outside of major metros. Rumor is the iPhone app has already been submitted for review and the Android app will launch at the same time.
Now here comes the fun part. Getting your reaction. What do you think about the Gowalla 4.0? Do you want a service that helps you explore other cities? Will you miss the simple check-in? Will you switch over to Foursquare to get check-in deals?
Williams shows off a quick demo while at TechCrunch Disrupt:
Update: I’m sad to report that Gowalla is no more. Facebook came in a hired most of the staff to come help develop Timeline. While I wish the best to the entire team, I cannot help but wonder what happened to our beloved app? It has been in a tailspin for the last few months. Even the most hardcore users were deleting their profiles and walking away. If there is any silver lining to the announcement, it is that Gowalla is ‘promising’ to release the data they have collected for users, spots, items, stamps, pins, etc. Hopefully someone else can create new apps from these crumbled ruins.