Trying to take a slice of the location-based services market, Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) launched a new service today called Fire Eagle, which “is meant to be a location broker that collects location information from a variety of services and devices and makes them available to other platforms,” according to GigaOm, which got the details today first hand at the ETech conference.
Yahoo is just the latest company to line up a strategy. It will be interesting to see what company in the value chain ends up being the most logical purveyors of location information. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has location-based maps on the phone, and is developing the Android operating system, which should be able to tap into a person’s location; Nokia (NYSE: NOK) has GPS-enabled devices and Ovi services to go with them; and the carriers, which have rolled out apps such as children trackers and navigation, inherently know where their subscribers are. It makes sense for both consumers and businesses. For consumers, a map is more useful if it knows where you are; a message on Twitter is easier to understand ( “I just saw a monkey” in a zoo.), and it’s a no-brainer when it comes to pictures — if photos are geo-tagged, users won’t have to remember where they were taken when uploading them to the Web. For businesses, it’s about revenues because you can provide much more relevant advertising when you have someone’s location.
No need to start placing bets yet on how it will work out. All the services, including Fire Eagle, still have a long way to go. TechCrunch writes that the beta has next to no functionality — you can type in your location, which the service notes and then places on an embedded Yahoo map, but it’s not automatic. And privacy will be a big concern. Although Yahoo doesn