Monday, June 25, 2007

The Future of Location Based Services

Location Based Services (LBS) and Local Search (show me pizza places near here) have been going to be the next big thing for some time now. Some attribute the failure of LBS to the ‘walled gardens’ that mobile phone networks operate within, a factor magnified within the UK by the comparitively high cost of data calls compared to the US.
Local Search has been a lot more successful (if you define success as numbers of users), in that I can search for the nearest cashpoint to my current location and usually find what I am looking for. Critics of Local Search suggest that it will ‘never take off’ because people know what is in their area and don’t need the Internet to tell them.
There is some sense in both of these standpoints. The high cost of data calls, does diminish the value of mobile LBS for the consumer. I do where the nearest cashpoint to my house is. A problem with LBS is complexity: it seems to be difficuilt to to provide a service that tells me what I want to know about where I am. This complexity goes hand-in-hand with the walled gardens of the mobile operators - its in the best interests of a service provider to make their customers think the job they are doing is incredibly difficuilt - it adds value to their service.
The LBS question - what is there that I want, near where I am - isn’t a particularly complex one. We talked about some of this stuff at Where Camp a few weeks ago, and a load of smart people thought of some complex solutions to the problem. The solution isn’t a complex one. I know loads about cash points here, and I am happy to tell someone who wants to know about cashpoints here everything I know, on the same terms that I am happy to give my knowledge to Twitter Bot. You can now query Multimap’s location data by sending a Twitter to their bot who talks to their own API and replies, for example:

1 comment:

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