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Summary:

While a handset providing your exact location might border on the side of creepy, it’s apparently pretty popular in the U.K. and Scandinavia. And it’s coming to the U.S. on Sprint’s network. "sniff", which stands for Social Network Integrated Friend Finder, can tell you where your […]

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While a handset providing your exact location might border on the side of creepy, it’s apparently pretty popular in the U.K. and Scandinavia. And it’s coming to the U.S. on Sprint’s network. "sniff", which stands for Social Network Integrated Friend Finder, can tell you where your friends are in real-time.

That’s a little different than where they uploaded their last photo or the zip code they just sent a tweet from and of course, there’s a huge privacy factor. However, the Useful Networks folks that provide the sniff service say that you’re in complete control of which friends can "sniff you out". If you only want certain friends to know where you are or if you want go off the grid, you can do that. Although I wouldn’t personally use this with the vast majority of my online friends (don’t take it personally), I would consider using it in a family setting. Barb or I are often running errands when the other thinks of something else to pick up while out. Usually, we call each other with a "Did you pass the WaWa yet or can you stop for a bag of coffee?" type question. Using the sniff service would already answer the first part of the question. Of course, our kids would never go for this type of LoJack for people.

Currently the service integrates with Facebook and registration is free. Finding a friend’s location is done through a text message sent to short-code 76433 (sniff) and costs $0.25 if you get a successful location result. The charge is in addition to any text messaging rates that you have with Sprint. I expect we’ll see more information soon out of Sprint that details which devices are "sniffable" and which aren’t. What do you think: is Usable Networks taking Location Based Services too far with sniff or does this smell like a good solution to you?

  1. I think this is a great idea but predict that most of the population won’t be too keen on it.

    I’m also pretty sure that a per fee (aka nickle and dime) approach will likely fail.

    The main way Sprint would make money is if they gave you a discount off your monthly bill in return for letting retailers send you up to XX free SMS text messages that would be relevant to your location.

    If I’m at the mall, I’m pretty open to knowing about a big sale going on at stores I frequent.

    I bet we’re 3 or 4 years away from them perfecting an advertising model though.

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  2. This sounds a lot like Nokia’s (free) Friend Finder service coming out of the beta labs.

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