Friday, January 15, 2010

Smart Phone Meets GPS, Meets Social Media, Meets Marketing

Last week, I saw a tweet that said, “I'm at Dupont Circle Park (Dupont Cir NW, 19th St NW & P St NW, Washington).” My first thought was, "Who cares?" But, then I figured it was time to learn a thing or two about the mobile GPS frenzy.

Some folks are playing “geo location games” like Urban Defender. Creepy, but not surprising. The serious push, of course, comes from the commercial side. Here’s how that can work.

Less than a month ago, on December 23, Twitter acquired Mixer Labs, the creators of geoAPI. This little smart phone app helps people find their sweet spots and – presumably – spend money.

Certainly, users want the purely informational stuff like GeoAPI’s Reverse Geocoder, which can take a latitudinal/longitudinal coordindate (that's a "lat/lon" to you) and convert it into people-speak (neighborhood, city, state, and country). Good to know. But that's not commercial yet.

GeoAPI also contains “deep data about 16 million businesses and tens of thousands of points of interest” (hours of operation, address, etc.). From there, customers can get seriously involved. Using GeoAPI’s “Entity Creation,” the user can annotate his or her own personal entries. For example, such citations as “awesome sidewalk art” or “best bargains ever,” enable the user to create a virtual world overlay to their own blocks and neighborhoods. Now we're talking customer-intelligence integrated with GPS. There's more.

GeoAPI’s “Media Layers” let the user integrate info from social media sites like Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. This feature lets you check out tweets coming from Central Park in New York, or photos of the Native American Museum in D.C., or what New York insiders think about Magnolia Bakery (Lazy Sunday with 3.7 million YouTube views, proves that people will look).

GPS activity on smart phones will be big business, say experts. Referring to mobile GPS as a "new layer of the web, " Mashable's Pete Cashmore suspects location-sharing devices will be the "breakout services of the year." Loic LeMeur, founder of Seesmic, Inc., predicted that “Location will be one of the most widespread status update’s on Twitter." Max Gladwell calls geolocation "the trend for 2010," noting that a dozen companies already are in the space.

Can you hear me now?

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

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