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Facebook Buys Gowalla: What does Facebook Gain?

Facebook is famous for many things—one of which is purchasing dynamic and innovative companies to assimilate their staff and technology. There’s always room for more creative, talented developers aboard the mother ship, which may explain why Facebook just acquired Gowalla.

Gowalla is a social network touting 600,000 active users that revolve around sharing locations, like vacations spots, restaurants, parks, etc. Users visit, or “check in,” to the network using mobile devices to share their favorite places with friends and family, including stories about those places. The whole concept encourages people to travel and share what they see and experience with others.

So what will Facebook acquiring Gowalla do for Facebook and its users?

Staff Improvement. The rumor that Facebook wanted to purchase Gowalla for its technology was never confirmed. The staff at Gowalla is innovators in a field that would benefit Facebook’s ever-evolving system. Hiring a collective, talented team which already works well together and then assigning that team to, say, the timeline project would be a smart move.

Expect check-ins (or something similar) to your Facebook. Facebook technically owns the information that you entered into Gowalla now. Will they use it? Not unless they want more exploding media reports over privacy issues. If Facebook didn’t buy the company for its technology and it didn’t buy it for Gowalla’s data, what’s really left? I’m going to guess here that you’re going to see some future features looking and smelling a great deal like Gowalla integrated into Facebook.

Facebook wants more of your information, including your location. The staff at Gowalla developed a network based on locations and those same innovators are now part of the Facebook family. Facebook Places didn’t work out and ended up merging with your status updates instead. In fact, Facebook already partnered with Gowalla and Foursquare by August 2010 to make that attempt and failed. The natural assumption is that maybe Facebook wants a second shot. Give it a new look, a new feel, or imbed the geolocation technology into a more popular aspect of Facebook’s user community. Facebook Places, take two?

Seeking New and Unique Connections? Another possible scenario, though not likely, could be Facebook sees some additional value in Gowalla’s connections, such as Disney. Last year Gowalla partnered with Disney, creating pins and other fun items for those who visited Walt Disney World. These exclusive features unlocked for users as they explored the park, earning them different rewards. Then there’s the popular feature of going on “trips,” like visiting the Magic Kingdom and riding all three mountains. With the right innovation, Facebook could bring a whole new level of interactive fun to The Greatest Place on Earth. What about other Gowalla partnerships with companies like Mashable, or events like the Sundance Film Festival? Could they benefit Facebook?

Unknown Similarities = Unknown Benefits. If you take a step back, you’ll see the two companies walk a parallel path: one company envisions helping people tell their stories, while the other is focused on recording the important moments in life that create those stories we want to remember. What does that mean to Facebook users? I’m not sure, but you’re not likely to notice any radical changes resulting from the assimilation of Gowalla.

Whether intentional or not, the purchase of Gowalla means less competition for Facebook. They have brilliant new additions to their staff who specialize in a technology Facebook failed to launch on their own. With over 800 million users, and their new purchase of talented developers, Facebook seems poised to continue their social market domination. What does all this mean to the Facebook user? Hopefully Improved experiences, new innovations, deeper connections, and, more than likely, knowing where your friends are at any given moment.

Author:- Greg Buckskin is a writer and marketer for CableTV.com.

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