Since a few years mobile location based services have been an extremely promising branch of the mobile ecosystem. The real boom of location-aware applications is, however, very recent. Location based services are taking the app-market by storm.
Whereas the traditional computer is built to receive input from the keyboard and the mouse, the smartphone is designed to work with input from touch, movement sensing, audio, video and location. It seems like only scent was left out, and even that might change. In short: your smartphone knows a lot about you. This means that apps can interact with you within the context that you are at a certain moment. And that means: Relevance, with a capital “R”, the essence of mobile. Location awareness is huge in this regard.
“Check-In apps” such as Gowalla and Foursquare, which basically let users share their whereabouts, are generating intense activity in cities all over the world. SimpleGeo, a startup that helps developers add location-based features to their apps has now raised a whopping $8.14 million to allow for speedy expansion. They made a cute video showing the location based action in Austin, Texas during SXSW:
How cool is that?
And did somebody say Facebook? Of the 400 million Facebook users, 100 million regularly check their account via mobile. And yes, Facebook is implementing location-sharing throughout its platform. Needless to say, this will make location based mainstream, whereas your typical Brightkite or Gowalla user today is still an “early adopter”. If one mobile trend will dominate in 2010, rest assured: it will be location awareness.
In a more modest note: In The Pocket is also working on location based technology. In the past few months we have been collaborating with the University of Ghent to develop a generic app that can be used for large events. Very quickly, an event organizer can customize our generic app to suit the needs and to match the style of his/her own event. The app shows location-relevant information about the event along with other useful features. The app serves as a context-interactive event guide with social sharing tools. We’re still in development, but hope to demonstrate the app sometime soon.