For those of you that don’t know I have been an avid user of Gowalla (and Foursquare) for well over a year. I first started with checkin apps when I discovered Foursquare, I loved the concept of being able to track where I had gone for my personal benefit but also I enjoyed sharing cool places I went to with others that I socialized with. When I discovered Gowalla I was impressed and felt they took the Foursquare concept to the next level with the addition of pins and really nice looking stamps and badges that you could collect for your Gowalla page. Sure these weren’t real tangible but I still thought it was neat. For a months I would check in on both Gowalla and Foursquare. Then Gowalla came out with what I thought was the killer app they incorporated a way to checkin to both them and other sites at the same time, I no longer had to spend time checking into two applications. Since then I’ve been almost exclusively a Gowalla user (except when I checked on Foursquare to make sure I got checked in).
Unfortunately today my use of Gowalla ends. It appears with the next version of Gowalla 4.0 they have transitioned their business away from the checkin application and decided to become a travel guide. Now when I log into Gowalla and attempt to checkin to where I am the first list of 20 or so places I see are “Recommended places”. Which is Gowalla speak for places that have paid us money to make sure you see them instead of where you actually are. That’s great Gowalla, good for you! You have discovered a business model that has completely alienated they majority of your userbase, the locals. If I wanted to use Gowalla as a travel guide I shouldn’t be forced to use it that way because although I love Disneyland I don’t need to see every Disneyland location near me instead of the places I am actually next to.
Why did you fuck up so bad? Because you didn’t actually try it out with your CORE users before you screwed it all up. Changes like this are something you test out with users that are willing to try out new things, you don’t just change it and tell your users to deal with it. Wait that isn’t exactly what you said. You told the users reading your blog that there has been a “Fabulous response”, I don’t think you are reading the same response I’m reading, because the majority of the responses on your blog have been negative. You have completely alienated the userbase that created the database you now use as your travelguide. More power to you for taking advantage to our two years of patronage to create yourself a business model that will be the end of you.
- Gowalla Updated To Version 4.0 – Removes Features, Adds Force Closes (androidpolice.com)
- Gowalla 4.0, Their Bold Revamp Towards Travel And Stories Goes Live (techcrunch.com)
- Gowalla flips its check-in service to be a social atlas for the world (thenextweb.com)
- Gowalla removes its defining features: Items and Notes (thenextweb.com)