Eighteen months ago, neither Gowalla nor Foursquare existed. But their similar “geolocation” mobile apps, which let users “check in” from their smartphones, share their location with their friends, and compete to earn virtual goods (in Gowalla) and “badges” (in Foursquare), are two of the hottest start-ups in the tech world. They’re in aggressive competition to be SXSWi’s big standout, making the digital-culture bonanza’s Texas-sized showmanship even bigger than usual. Source: SXSWi: Let the geolocation games begin | CNET News.
Geolocating apps were present at last year’s SXSW, but they were more beta tests than full scale applications. As big as I may make it, these two startups are the only players in the game. Some of the heavy weights are looking seriously at geolocation for targeting ads and other applications.
Geolocation is unlike anything the Web has ever seen, but it’s likely that the rush to dominate the space will pan out in a way similar to any other big development in social media. We’ve seen (and in some cases continue to see) the personal Web page wars, the blog platform wars, the social-network wars, the real-time-streaming wars, and the social-gaming wars. Like its predecessors, the geolocation wars will see major, complicated privacy concerns. There will be more hand-wringing from start-ups who don’t believe it when a company like Facebook (presumably) says they don’t want to snuff out third-party services. There will be poorly spent venture capital and ad dollars. And eventually, there will be winners.
But for now, Foursquare and Gowalla can enjoy their week of attention at SXSWi, giving out free T-shirts, turning on the taps at open bars, and wooing potential marketing partners. Their executives can get a little drunk, and it probably won’t matter; in the long run, a week in Austin won’t mean much. Source: In geolocation wars, SXSWi is mere skirmish | CNET News.