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Location: It's Creepy, But It's Here

Dan Jones
2/19/2008
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Make no mistake, you can't escape from mobile location services in 2008.

I saw everything from the impressive to the creepy (often both at once) at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona last week. Mapping and other location services will be the new frontier for vendors and developers and -- potentially -- a way to differentiate mobile content from wired applications for carriers and other ad-delivery systems.

Of note: Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)'s Maps 2 application, which follows a user's location round a city and -- in theory -- makes getting lost in a new town a thing of the past. (See Nokia: Is It Me You're Looking For?)

On the creepy side, see Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO)'s latest work, which doesn't just let you know where your friends are but also plots other random users in the vicinity that are on Facebook and other social networking applications. Of course, the users can disable these find-me features, but how many will even be aware of them. Just like WiFi, GPS, and other improved capabilities open up a mess of new security and privacy issues.

But that's another issue for another column. For now, let me just say that I think vendors and developers have found the mobile capability that will make advertising attractive and different from traditional online banners. It's knowing where your target market is sitting right at that moment and knowing what they are looking for.

And 2008 into 2009 will be the first years that operators, aided by vendors and developers, can start to exploit that knowledge to bring in more revenue.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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