Is there a future for Location Based Services?

Following on from this Jaiku thread there were two questions asked:

  • What’s your take on location based services?
  • What in your view are the best opportunities or use cases with LBS?

What’s your take on location based services?
So far, i have not really be able to find a real use for any of the ones i have tried so far.

Playing with LBS is fun and justifies buying a top of the range device (although now, GPS is moving down the range, in the same way that cameras did).
Currently the purpose of most of the LBS out there today are they allow you to connect with other people who are interested in experimenting with LBS.
So far, most of the services i have tried are (to me at least) obviously the result of people who are coming from a non-mobile development background. The experience on the web is so much better than the mobile experience. The mobile is only thought of as a place to *generate* data, and not as a potential primary consumption location.
The two exceptions to this are buddycloud and Google’s Latitude.
Both succeed as they offer an excellent experience on the mobile and currently the desktop use is more of a “second choice”.

What in your view are the best opportunities or use cases with LBS?
As Andrew says at the end of his article, Location in and of itself is not really that interesting.
It is the context where the value is and it is no great surprise that Jyri picks up on this in the Jaiku thread.
There might be some small use case in the sharing of your location as a “fuzzy” entity. I think brightkite had this at one point, but like Plazes before it, the interface became too complicated and it put location in the center, and location is rarely a social object that people care that strongly about.

As i see things, the Jaiku team created something that was one of the earliest real uses of location, by tying it in with your phone book. It is just a shame that more people did not make use of this feature.

Privacy:
Privacy is something else Latitude seem to have got mostly correct (because of the strong influence of Jyri Engeström?).
It seems that many people have missed the fact that there are actually THREE levels of sharing; hide, city and accurate (which if you are indoors is not actually all that accurate as it is cell tower based).
This extra city level allows for a level of the serendipity of meetings similar to the one that Dopplr has going for it, whilst still retaining some privacy.
The other thing that this simple 3 level scheme has going for it is that you apply it as you connect with people rather than having to think of some complicated grouping, or forcing people into the limited groups offered by the service.

As i see things today, the future will involve something like fire-eagle, where location is both easy to generate and consume. Probably in a similar manner to how things like atom and XMPP were created.

original article is here

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Categories: interesting conversation | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Is there a future for Location Based Services?

  1. mike

    There is some overlap here with the points that Matt Jones makes in this post – http://magicalnihilism.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/exporting-the-past-into-the-future-or-the-possibility-jelly-lives-on-the-hypersurface-of-the-present/

    THe interesting stuf is not so much in where i am now, but more where i have been and where i plan to go.

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