Foursquare vs. Gowalla – The SXSW Battle For Geolocation-Based Subscribers

Date Added: november 15, 2010

Author: Ethan.Luke

Just when you thought you couldn’t get excited about another social networking service, two more innovative apps are battling for your “location” loyalty. Combine the features of Yelp, Twitter, Google Latitude, and social gaming, and you have the hottest new social recipe: geolocation-based services. The two main players on the scene are Foursquare and Gowalla, who have both been rapidly growing an enthusiastic early adopter user base throughout 2009. In 2010, they are now battling for a spot on your smartphone.

Foursquare, based in New York City, and Gowalla, based in Austin, were both developed in late 2008, unbeknownst to each other’s creators. During their simultaneous launches in early 2009, FourSquare hogged the spotlight, overpowering any fanfare Gowalla was trying to build. However, since the initial Foursquare buzz, Gowalla has emerged as a serious competitor.

The two geolocation-based services again stole the show this year at SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) 2010, the annual congregation in Austin, Texas of self-proclaimed technology geeks, video game wizards, and gadget nerds. In what was hyped as the “geo-wars”, Foursquare and Gowalla battled for the lion’s share of subscribers throughout the five days of the tech festival.

The folks with Foursquare quite literally took to the streets to win subscribers over, hosting real Four Square games on the sidewalks surrounding the Austin Convention Center. According to the co-founder of Foursquare, Dennis Crowley, the company signed up approximately 75,000 new subscribers during the five day festival, and 100,000 new users in the 10 days of the entire SXSW festival. Foursquare is now reporting over 600,000 users.

Austin-based Gowalla were just as engaging, signing up tens of thousands of new subscribers, as reported by co-founder Josh Williams. Most geolocation-based subscribers have signed up using their iPhones, with 88 percent of Gowalla’s new users and 66 percent of Foursquare new users acquired in this fashion.

It is not clear who won the battle for subscribers, as both companies added a significant numbers to their respective user bases at SXSWi. It is a very clear victory, however, for geolocation-based services. Foursquare and Gowalla have both benefited from the popularity of the iPhone and its healthy stable of Apps, and continue to grow its user base as other smartphone users – i.e. Blackberry and Android – jump on board with the social networking game.

Geolocation-based networks are an emerging social media that builds and expands your brand to influential audiences. With every check-in, your business gains instant awareness throughout a user’s growing social network. If your company is searching for innovative ways to leverage social media, establish branding messages, and build valuable networks in its niche, MediaFirst, specializing in technology public relations, can connect you to your audience and launch a social media presence for you and your company.

For more than ten years, MediaFirst has helped power clients to successful acquisition and exit with invaluable skill and knowledge throughout the PR and marketing fields. MediaFirst combines creative and engineering to deliver great strategy, positioning, writing, and guidance for technology firms in their respective niches. If you want to expand your audience, generate leads, attract investors, and solidify your success, select MediaFirst for your next technology public relations campaign.

Ethan Luke. Technology Public relations – MediaFirst is a high-tech, public relations and marketing services firm with unique abilities that best publicize and promote the business of your technology.