If you track such things, you will have noted a substantial rise in the noise around the mobile, location-based startup called Gowalla. It and Foursquare are the two apparent front runners in the space.
Taking a cue from UFC, and the world of non-gladiatorial sporting, there is nothing like a small competition to clear the air. Gowalla is built by Alamofire, a company that has been around for a few years, and has raised ten million dollars. Foursquare on the other hand, is less than a year old, and has raised less than 14% as much as Alamofire.
To commence, which service has more traffic to their websites? Not a perfect comparison, given that both have applications for mobile devices, but it can still be illuminating. According to Compete:
Score one point Foursquare, for being several multiples larger. Not a good start for Gowalla. Continuing the one on one comparisons, let’s take a look at total Twitter followers and lists. Foursquare: 15,354 followers, 1,161 lists. Gowalla: 4,226 followers, and 347 lists. Another point to Foursquare.
But all that is ancillary, what we really want to know is how the two apps are doing in the mobile space. We’ll use data from the iTunes App store, as it has the largest sample.
In the app store, Gowalla is the 9th most popular social networking application, and the 147th most popular application in the store as a whole. Gowalla has only recently popped onto the top apps chart, but seems to be holding itself well. Take a look, data via TopAppCharts:
Foursquare clocks in as the 21st most popular application in social networking, not even popping onto the most downloaded charts. Take a look:
Well, it appears that we get to give Gowalla the point, at least for now, of winning the download war. Of course, we do not have longer historical data, and Foursquare could theoretically have more total downloads. However, right now, Gowalla is garnering more users, more quickly. Perhaps closing cities off was not such a good plan, after all.
Finally, let’s get a measurement on the buzz of each product. Google trends is a very useful tool for such comparisons. Let’s get a graph:
Now, Foursquare is a term that is use in other places, so we only want to look at the rise in the searchers for it, opposed to its historical average. Even discounting for the past, Foursquare is obviously a rising trend. Take a look at the spike in relation to past years. Gowalla appears just a minute ago, but is growing quickly.
So what do we have? Gowalla has more money and downloads at the moment, while Foursquare has more Twitter followers, traffic to its website, and search buzz. I had been hoping for a more clear breakdown. Let’s put it like this: at the moment Fourquare appears to be ahead, but Gowalla is growing very quickly, and has a number of celebrity users (such as Kevin Rose) who pimp the service constantly.
For the moment Foursquare, but in six months, it is anyone’s game.