It’s been said before, and I’m sure it’ll be said again…it looks like 2010 is going to be the year of location based services. Leading the pack are Foursquare and Gowalla (sorry BrightKite, Loopt, and others). As most people know, with most location based services, the main function is to check-in at a specific location. Also peppered in are elements of gameplay, community, collecting, exploring, and more. Essentially though, the main purpose is to say “Hey, this is where I am right now.”
I don’t know how you use Foursquare and Gowalla, but I use each a little differently.
I view Foursquare as a “this is where I am now” service. I check in when I’m at a location and if I can’t or I forget to, then I’m usually out of luck (though I do admit to occasional retro check-ins). I like to check the leaderboard and see who among my friends is currently on top. I like to collect badges. I like competing with my friends for mayorships of places we frequent. No matter what I do though, Foursquare remains the “I am here right now” service.
Now with Gowalla, I treat it a little differently. I treat it as an “I’ve been here” service. I don’t necessarily check-in to a location with Gowalla while I’m there. I view Gowalla as a checklist to where I’ve been. For example, if I pass a particular Starbucks that I’ve been to many times before, but don’t happen to stop in this time, I might open Gowalla and check-in to add it to my list of places I’ve been. I’m sure there are people who disagree with this, but it works for me. I like seeing a set of locations in a particular area, and I like collecting items from those locations. If I’ve already been there numerous times before, I don’t see why I have to stop in once again just to check if off my list.
Personally, I tend to use Foursquare the most, but I really like the context in which I use Gowalla. As I said, Foursquare to me is my “I’m here now” app and Gowalla is my “I’ve been here app.” While competitors, I could see both services taking ownership of different aspects of the LBS space, depending upon how they choose to move forward.
Anyone else use Foursquare and Gowalla (and other LBS services) differently?