4 Comments

Summary:

Today Loopt and Qualcomm announced a deal that allows Loopt the ability to grab location data for a monthly fee, rather than each time someone checks their locale–making it cheaper to figure out exactly where a mobile device is at any time.

loopt-logo-greenToday Loopt and Qualcomm announced a deal that allows Loopt the ability to grab location data for a monthly fee, rather than each time someone checks their locale — making it cheaper to figure out exactly where a mobile device is at any time. Location is becoming increasingly relevant on the mobile phone after years of unfulfilled promises. But location can add costs for developers trying to apply it to their applications.

Normally, developers are charged each time their program asks a server for the GPS coordinates of the mobile device, making location-based services a potentially pricey feature. The deal between Loopt and SnapTrack, a subsidiary of Qualcomm, gives Loopt the ability to use QPoint, SnapTrack’s location-based server software, to provide its social mapping and other advanced location services without getting charged each time it asks for the data.

Now that GPS chips are becoming standard in phones and more carriers, handset makers and developers are introducing mobility onto their platforms, lowering the costs associated with the service might actually bring about more applications and uses. Once folks figure out privacy rules, and how to keep the carriers from getting in the way, it’s possible your mobile device could help you navigate the web and real life.

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  1. This deal is not really relevant, as Qualcomm does not control the distribution of the location data. This is like saying that doing a deal with Intel is going to allow me to get a cheaper ThinkPad.

    In North America, the carriers control the access to the GPS by making it available through their network. The only exceptions to this are autonomous GPS devices like the iPhone, Blackberry Curve and Nokia N95, where the GPS data is available directly from the device.

  2. I totally agree with Boomer. Don’t all of the Tier 1 US carriers already have Location systems in place from TCS or Aepona, etc? Does Loopt actually have a CARRIER deal here or any concrete plans to sell locates to carriers? Wouldn’t they have to undercut TCS (a huge SnapTrack customer) in order to do that? Seems like a long shot for a bunch of college kids (at best) and just terrible strategy at worst (really? they want to become a systems integrator?).

    Let’s focus: isn’t Loopt’s biggest challenge actually REVENUE (lack of users or even a credible business model for the users they DO have) and not COST at all? Isn’t the Loopt service generally offered for FREE already (on Sprint, iPhone, etc)? How is cost holding anything back for them?

    Look, I love the idea of being able to see where my friends are on my mobile phone. I really do. But Loopt has not cracked the code yet in terms of getting enough customers or getting PAID for the customers they do have. I’m skeptical that a branded mobile-social network ever will in the face of large existing social networks (Facebook, My Space, etc).

    This feels like a meaningless “news” item and a distraction for a company that needs to focus on creating a legitimate business.

    Can someone help me connect the dots? What am I missing here?

  3. So loopt was not only giving the TV away for free, they were paying for people to take it.

  4. Interesting news, indeed. I was not aware that companies such as Loopt must pay a fee each time their users request location data (am I understanding this correctly?).

    I’m working for a company who just launched a service called Moot (http://www.moot.com) that lets users discover other Moot users–friends or strangers–on a WiFi network for the purpose of sharing files, finding out stuff about other Moot users, chat, etc.

    Currently we are playing with the idea of offering a kind of location-based service that notifies users when interesting people/places/etc. are nearby. We just wrote about some of our ideas at http://moottalk.blogspot.com/2008/11/proximity-based-social-networking-moot.html

    Obviously, it is a big step to take a wifi file sharing utility and transform it into a location-based service along the lines of Loopt. So far we thought perhaps the advantage of a proximity-based approach was less concerns about privacy. Perhaps there is a cost issue as well (?).

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