With the big web companies taking a keen interest and rival startups all competing, there’s plenty of jostling amongst mobile social location sharing hopefuls.
Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) has bought Koprol, Facebook, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Twitter are all planning their own location add-ons and rival Foursquare is growing in popularity.
Gowalla seems to want to keep its cards in the game by being as open as possible until things shake out. So is there really a differentiator, and what is it… ?
At the Open Mobile Summit in London, CEO Josh Williams told me: “The Googles, Facebooks and Twitters of the world… location’s going to become a platform that is ubquitous across the web and mobile web. We want to provide a valuable service that sits on top of that – so, ultimately, we’re agnostic about where you choose to share your location.
“Hopefully, we can play friendly with everybody.” Williams told a summit panel session: “We dont care if you want to take (your location) to Gowalla and share it with your friends there or take it out to your Twitter friends.”
Williams says the location sharing space will mature in the next six months by the cluster of counterparts differentiating. He wants Gowalla to add media, not just location, sharing.
Ultimately, one wonders whether there’s a window of opportunity before the big guns switch on to the phenomenon – and that could mean either acquisition, as in Koprol’s case, or sticking to a start-up’s guns.
So is there a standalone business model? Gowalla’s trying “two or three different angles”, including promoting brands’ locations, Williams said. Is Gowalla an acquisition target? “It’s too early to say,” Williams added, noting he’s “very happy to be swimming in that (Austin start-up) pond”.