Gowalla Good-Bye

It was really only a matter of time, but Gowalla has officially closed up shop.

As the technorati gather in Austin, Texas this weekend for the annual South by Southwest Interactive conference, one of its former darlings quietly shuttered itself. Just two years ago Gowalla walked away with a SXSW Interactive award for Mobile apps, and now when you go to the site you see the message above.

Gowalla opened its doors in 2009 as a location based app that would allow to check-in, collect virtual items and share where you were with your followers.  The problem was that while it had its loyal users, it just couldn’t ever pick up the momentum of its main competition, Foursquare.  In 2011 it attempted to reinvent itself as a travel site, but that didn’t really catch on either.  Finally Facebook came a calling and purchased the company in December of last year.  Once that purchase happened it was pretty clear that Gowalla would shut down at some point, it just wasn’t completely clear when that would be.

It looks like Facebook will be getting more into the location space, but for now, Foursquare rules the roost, and Gowalla joins the pile of also rans.  Now … can I also download all of those cool virtual items I scoured numerous businesses for?