Location, Location, Location – the 2010 edition

May 9, 2010

I drafted this blog post some two months ago, and now it popped in my mind again when I heard the news of Facebook’s attempt to utilize geolocation. Better now than never, so here you go, from early spring:

The beginning of a new year – not to mention a new decade – is a great time to make predictions about the future. Or the near future, the upcoming year at least.

I’ve been enthusiastically going thru various digital communications and social media trends forecasts. (Good reads include this TIME magazine article and TrendSpotting research)

Picking from that lot and adding my own recent experiences, I nominate location-based services as the thing in digital communications in 2010.

Basically location-based services are “information and entertainment services, accessible with mobile devices through the mobile network and utilizing the ability to make use of the geographical position of the mobile device” (Wikipedia definition).

A short analysis of pros and cons of the prediction:

My top reasons why

  1. Location data adds a new layer to communications. It is at the same time fresh, cool & exciting as it is practical & helpful.
  2. Mobile web usage is ever increasing. Usage grew 148 % worldwide in 2009. Many markets have reached – or will in the near future – the critical mass for these kinds of services to fly.
  3. It’s already here. Twitter added geolocation to tweets last year and location-based services like FourSquare and Gowalla could be this years Twitter hype-wise.

My top doubts why not

  1. People are afraid of their privacy. There’s a limit to sharing your life online. Services need to make their privacy settings easily adjustable and respect the users’ wishes regarding their data.
  2. Population density isn’t high enough. Sure these things work in let’s say Bay Area where there are a lot of people – tech savvy people, even. But take it to rural Finland and you won’t see that many people competing for being the mayor of the local gas station.

We’ll see how it’ll play out. In the mean time, I’ll be battling for those mayorships.

Edit (13.5.2010): Mashable just posted a good article that complements my “why not” list.

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