Gowalla gone - service shuts down

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Location check-in service Gowalla has shut down.

The move comes just three months after leading social network Facebook subsumed Gowalla's staff.

The closure comes as Facebook looks to increase and improve location-based services on its site: as rival check-in site FourSquare continues to grow in popularity.

As if sharing what you had for lunch with the world wasn't enough on your social network of choice, the rise of location services like Gowalla and FourSquare allowed you to tell everyone exactly whereabouts you'd eaten, too.

"Checking in" was originally seen as a faddy addendum to social media - a kind of show off's travel diary, a way of localising yourself more urgently and definitively than simply saying "stuffing my gob with McDonald's" in a status update.

FourSquare and Gowalla both caused a few ripples of concern at launch: several national newspapers sent reporters to try to track down FourSquare users based purely on public information from the app, and their social media profiles. Unsurprisingly, it worked: and very quickly too.

Despite the initial concerns, though, location check-in services burgeoned in popularity, with FourSquare fast becoming the global check-in service of choice for anyone unconcerned about signposting the best times for burglars to pop round.

Both services went live in 2009, but FourSquare's position became unassailable, leaving rival Gowalla having to refocus its service time and again.

Despite losing ground to FourSquare, Gowalla was still seen as a tempting acquisition: Facebook eventually subsumed Gowalla's team, including co-founders Josh Williams and Scott Raymond, in December last year.

The Gowalla team is now working on Facebook's own location check-in services. Whilst mobile users have been able to use an internal Facebook app to geolocate themselves since 2010, the network is looking to increase its locational offerings, including check-in deals with retailers.

Visitors to Gowalla's homepage are now met with a short thank-you message: "Thank you for going out with Gowalla. It was a pleasure to journey with you around the world. Download your check-ins, photos and lists here soon."

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