It’s ok if you are not yet convinced by all this “location, location, location” hype; there have been convincing arguments made against the integration of location-aware software. Just don’t be disappointed when the entire world becomes virtually geo-tagged and your company is left off the grid.
Location-aware software in mobile devices can be beneficial to both businesses and consumers. I’m sure we won’t have to wait long see a variety of newly unveiled use-cases and a steady uptake of mainstream integration throughout 2010.
Why? For starters, on the data back-end, location-aware software adds a valuable third dimension to an already abundant cache of user-generated data sources. Location cognition in software will accelerate Apple’s original idea of “there’s an app for that” to an entirely different level.
Something as simple as a location stamp does little good; but when that same location stamp is compared to, and mashed up with, the ba-gillion different kinds of time-stamped UGC currently available, the value added creates a whole new untapped reservoir for researchers and businesses to dive into.
Businesses would be poorly advised to ignore this as just another “trend.” The potential data at their fingertips could ultimately prove to be an invaluable arsenal of previously-hidden tools in their marketing research.
Think about it: getting everyone to use to their phone in this manner would undoubtedly produce the ideal intersection of mobile advertising and user-recommendations, all combined with the addictive nature of social media.
If businesses choose to inquire, they could determine an unbiased view of what, where, and why people care about their product or service – and that sure beats the customer surveys that noone takes unless they’re totally pissed off. Why ask and annoy your patrons when you could geo-crowd-source all the information you could ever ask for?
Better data = better advertising = better sales.
In a perfect world, you could let the natural competition and recommendations spawned from your patrons drive sales. However, we don’t live in a perfect world and sadly, the above equation is far too optimistic and over-simplified, and we’re not there yet.
Currently, the world we live in is an opt-in society, and none of the magic data I allude to above will be available unless marketers and businesses uphold their end of the bargain, and offer the necessary incentives required to be rewarded with the data they desire.
Queue up the other side of the record: consumer-facing incentives on the front-end are a must. Location-aware software should be the next step toward uniting users’ virtual assets and communities with real-world value.
There has already been several use-cases speculated around the potential of this feature. Interested in knowing when, where, and exactly why there is a traffic jam on a highway? Or maybe why is there a crowd at a particular venue during South By Southwest?
I speculate the maturation I seek in real-world value for consumers will manifest in the form of these three categories: entertainment, physical goods, and real-time news redefined.
Local startup, Gowalla, has pretty much nailed the entertainment vertical. Their app combines physical exploration with the entertainment value of treasure hunting. Users are incentivized to check-in to reveal hidden rewards that may be stashed by other users in a particular location. Great idea. Rock on.
Similar to Gowalla, but with better market traction, is Foursquare. When users check-in to Foursquare at a specific location, they earn points that unlock a hierarchy of badges that convey their status.
If they keep playing their cards right, Foursquare will have a commanding lead in the market share because businesses have already begun to adopt it as the location-based platform to incorporate the philosophy I mentioned above – using their rewards/badges system as a scalable tool to deliver real-world goods. A scalable example that is already on the horizon is location-specific discounts or coupons offered (sponsored) by specific companies. And that’s just the start.
With the adoption of location-aware apps and Google announcing QR codes and Place Ranks, I expect to see a whole new convergence in the way mobile users interact with businesses, whether they’re ready interact back or not.
Lastly, when I say “real-time news redefined,” I am simply adding on to the existing definition. Currently, real-time news is delivered in streams, like Twitter (which Bing, Google, and Yahoo have all been forced to adopt into their searches).
News in “real-time 2.0,” so-to-speak, will most certainly have to include location. A “breaking” story, such as a crime, could truly be reported at the very moment and exact location where it occurred.
On a much larger scale, geo-aware software allows us to watch trends as they evolve and spread across the nation. The next election, for example, will undoubtedly produce a cacophony of data.
Any number of uses for more accurate, location-specific news will emerge over the next year, but ultimately this technology facilitates real-world value in the form of direct and agile responses to events as they occur.
For the time being, geo-specific tweets and games are currently novelty items, but as uptake increases, expect to see a massive land rush of virtual assets and real places, the substantial adoption of incentive-based programs, and a wealth of data dumped onto the table for anyone’s taking. Get in now.