Archive for the ‘Location’ Category

NY Times article on Mobile LBS app

June 28, 2006

Article in the NY Times (reg. required) today about a mobile guide service launched in Japan through the collaboration of US & Japanese firms. The application combines GPS & an electronic “compass” to give users real-time location information about their surroundings (such as directions). As typical with many mobile services launched in Asia, don’t expect this type of service in the US anytime soon…

It sounds like a cool application, but we’re going to run into the old chicken-and-egg problem with these types of services: carriers are probably going to be hesitant to fast-track these services until they see evidence for large-scale user adoption, which makes it harder for LBS developers & vendors to develop services at a lower cost, which in turn makes it less likely consumers are going to adopt these services b/c of cost issues (i.e. people are cheap!), which means we’re going to have a lot of fits-and-starts in the US before GPS services gets any serious traction…

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A new Chaperone from Verizon

June 12, 2006

After the announcements from Sprint & Disney about their kid tracking services, it's not surprising to see Verizon come out with their own version. Verizon is calling their service "Chaperone" and you can check out this article to see more details, but the basics are the same as the others (i.e., subscribers pay a monthly fee to track the location of a handset). So far, it looks like the service only works with Verizon's LG Migo handset…

As I mentioned here & here, don't hold your breath for these services to kick-start LBS. Kids don't want to be tracked and as ABI analyst Ken Hyers stated, “vendors will need to set realistic expectations for their customers. In many cases, this will mean educating the public on the real-world availability and accuracy of cellular A-GPS.”

More feedback on kid locator services

May 5, 2006

Sprint Family Locator (image from USA Today)USA Today reviewed Sprint's Family Locator service that I wrote about previously. As you might guess from the title – Sprint Family Locator needs to work on accuracy – it's not a glowing review of the service.

Even if you got over the privacy issues of "always-on" location tracking and assumed kids would dutifully use the service (to avoid being tracked, kids could simply turn their phones off), you still have an issue with GPS location as USA Today writes: "GPS doesn't do as well in congested areas with tall buildings, including midtown Manhattan, one spot where a Samsung MM-A920 was tracked. Accuracy measurements came within 442 yards, 718 yards and 997 yards, several city blocks from the phone's actual position in an office much of the time."

Kid tracking not the answer for LBS blues

April 30, 2006

I've been a little late on the recent carrier announcements by Sprint & Disney (via MocoNews & Techdirt Wireless, respectively) for kid tracking services.

The MocoNews post referenced this Reuters article that quoted Yankee analyst Marina Amoroso as estimating that "about 2 percent of U.S. subscribers are interested in people-locating services" [such as kid tracking]. Whoa! Two percent is beyond low.

Am I surprised? No! Ask anybody if they'd like to use a leash-type tracking service and I'd be surprised if you even got 1% interest. It just sounds creepy and too much like "Big Brother". I know it's targeted to parents who are worried about their kids, but most kids won't think it'd be cool to be spied upon by their parents (it'd take the fun out of being a kid!).

The right type of consumer LBS service has got to give the user the power to opt-in / disclose their location when it's advantageous for them. People are not going to want to have their every step tracked by someone else (outside of e911 or similar emergency apps)…Give them value for disclosing their location, like making it easier meet up with friends or helping them acquire social capital for being at cool places. Those types of social services are going to ultimately drive LBS, not things like kid tracking…