Foursquare v. Gowalla — Just One Drama Playing In Austin This Weekend

The Wall Street Journal addresses the buzz around location-based services at SXSW this weekend.

According to the Journal:

Foursquare, which launched last year at SXSW, has 16 new badges that users can collect as they check in at different places around Austin. The service updated its iPhone app in time for the conference and has teamed up with PayPal and Microsoft to raise money for Save the Children’s Haiti fund with each Austin check-in. Rival location-based service Gowalla is up for some competition with Foursquare. It is offering challenges and prizes for users, and it has a big party scheduled that benefits Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation.

Alex Pham of Los Angeles Times, says these services have been percolating for some time, but until recently they’ve remained on the bleeding fringe used primarily by uber tech geeks. Then he asks, so why are they bubbling up now?

“This is the first year for this conference where almost everyone has a phone capable of location-based apps to help them find cool things,” said Sam Altman, chief executive and co-founder of Loopt, which has 3 million registered users. “Secondly, there has been shift in public perception. When we started our company, everyone thought we were crazy. No one would want to share their location. That would be creepy. Now, they’re not afraid of that anymore.”

But not all SouthBy participants are feeling the geo-location love. Scott Henderson, for one, wants to opt out.
I chimed in on Twitter yesterday to say all the furor seems a little odd, since presumably the technorati already knows where it is this weekend.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.