The company astutely changed its game plan by designing Gowalla 3 to allow users to check in on multiple social networks from its dashboard and to track their friends across multiple social networks. The Check.in app had tried to do this a while back, but it didn't take off, in part because its user interface wasn't quite right. Gowalla, though, is a masterful user-interface company and has made it much easier to manage multinetwork check-ins: It's an antidote to check-in fatigue.
How Will Foursquare React?
Whether archrival Foursquare will continue to allow Gowalla to pull data out of its API 9 (application programming interface) to allow Gowalla users to easily check-in on Foursquare or watch FourSquare users is an open question. Version 3 could elevate Gowalla to an aggregator, letting it piggyback on Foursquare's popularity, which would naturally upset Foursquare.
Then again, Foursquare could easily pull off a similar move. Neither Facebook nor Twitter, both of which are integrated into Gowalla 3, are likely to object: Both have tolerated outside firms pulling in their check-in data, and Twitter has a massive ecosystem of third-party clients that carry a big chunk of the traffic on the short-message social network.
At present, this is only an iPhone app, but Gowalla will certainly hustle out an Android version soon.
Whether Gowalla 3 will take market share away from Foursquare is tough to predict: Momentum in social-networking tools is hard to overcome. Regardless, it's certainly a whole lot more interesting than the last version of Gowalla. It also appears that Gowalla is going to be pushing harder into discount offerings. Another good move.