Life is a game, the saying goes, but Gowalla knows where all the pieces are. It's called location-based social networking, in which your phone automatically checks in at real-world sites. Tracking your friends is helpful, but discounts and prizes from vendors you visit are even better. Launched at South by Southwest 2009, Austin-based Gowalla returned to the Interactive Festival in 2010 to go toe-to-virtual-toe with New York-based rival Foursquare, picking up the award for best mobile service and a whole hunk of international tech buzz.
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